CAROLINA BEACH, N.C. (WECT) — A Carolina Beach man is headed to prison after he was convicted of posing as a police officer and raping escorts he met online.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Joseph Adam Silva, 31, was convicted of four counts of second-degree sex offense, two counts of second-degree rape, three counts of sexual servitude of an adult victim, and four counts of impersonating a law enforcement officer.
Silva was given an active sentence of 10-17 years in prison, as well as a suspended sentence of 10-17 years once he is released. He was also given 60 months probation in the sex offender control program. Silva will have to register as an aggravated sex offender and be subject to GPS-based monitoring for the rest of his life.
Silva is also required to surrender his law enforcement certification.
Silva served as a reserve officer for the Carolina Beach Police Department from March 30, 2015, to September 23, 2015.
On January 7, 2016, Silva contacted a 16-year-old escort he met through Backpage and arranged to meet her. During the encounter, Silva claimed that he was a police officer and he was working prostitution sting. Silva reportedly raped the teen in his truck.
Detectives with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office began investigating the incident.
In February 2016, a report was filed the Wilmington Police Department regarding a missing woman. Detectives located the woman, who then reported she was sexually assaulted by a man claiming to be a police officer. The victim said she met the man through Backpage and during their encounter, he told her he was working a prostitution sting. The man then forced the victim to perform oral sex.
On March 25, 2016, Silva reportedly contacted a 19-year-old escort on Backpage and arranged to meet her at a home in Carolina Beach. During their encounter, Silva claimed to be an undercover cop working a prostitution sting. He then forced the victim to perform oral sex on him. The victim reported the sexual assault to an FBI agent she had recently been in contact with.
Authorities asked the victim if she would be willing to set up another meeting with the suspect, and she agreed.
Silva showed up for the meeting and was taken into custody by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities say Silva left his two children at home asleep. Officers ensured the children were safe before contacting social services.
After Silva’s arrest, a Brunswick County woman saw him on the news and contacted the Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and claimed she had been assaulted by him. The victim said she met Silva through an escort advertisement on Craigslist and that he claimed to be a cop working an undercover prostitution sting. Silva then forced the victim to perform oral sex before raping her.
A forensic examination of Silva’s phone linked him with two of the known victims, as well as multiple other women that were known as escorts in the area.
Detectives attempted to contact all the women on Silva’s phone. A woman contacted said she was sexually assaulted on March 9, 2016, by Silva at the same Carolina Beach residence from the March 25 incident.
All five women gave a detailed description of the suspect which matched Silva.
“The defendant preyed on some of the most vulnerable people in our community, people who are fearful they are going to be harmed, fearful they won’t be believed, fearful they will be arrested and sent to jail, fearful their families will find out,” said Connie Jordan, assistant district attorney. “By holding himself out as a law enforcement, Joseph Silva placed these women in fear for their lives and also made them feel they would not be safe if they reported his crimes against them.”
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