By Patrick Markey
and Jim Smith
An ex-convict who New Hampshire police say kidnapped and sexually assaulted two Irish students last week has surrendered to authorities at the U.S. Embassy in Belgium.
Steven Gordon, 28, walked into the embassy in Brussels on Friday, almost a week after he allegedly forced two Irish women into a rental car at gunpoint and raped them near a cemetery in Portsmouth, N.H.
In a startling interview with a Boston Globe reporter who managed to contact Gordon in an Amsterdam youth hostel, the suspect reportedly confessed to the rapes and said he was sorry. Gordon later made a similar telephone confession to New Hampshire police.
Gordon is now being held on a provisional arrest warrant by the Belgian Gendar Merie, the Belgium national police, while the U.S. Department of Justice handles the extradition process, according to Capt. Adam Price of the Portsmouth Police Department. Gordon has a preliminary hearing at a Belgian court on Wednesday, Price said.
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“New Hampshire police have sent down a draft of their request for his extradition and that’s where it stands now,” John Russell, a Justice Department spokesman, said.
According to Special Agent Chris Reilly of the U.S. State Department’s diplomatic security service, Gordon flew into Amsterdam on the Monday after the attack and made his way into Belgium using his own passport.
The extradition process could take two or three weeks, Reilly said.
New Hampshire police identified Gordon as a suspect after investigators discovered the rental car he had been using abandoned near the scene of the crime. Gordon now faces charges of aggravated felonious sexual assault and kidnapping, according to Price. He was released from prison last year after serving a five-year jail term for sexual assault and was on parole at the time of the attack.
Gordon’s relatives have told reporters that he suffers from manic depression and had not been taking his medication in recent weeks. Police said Gordon is also wanted for a string of recent armed robberies and the rape of another woman, a New Hampshire real estate agent, earlier in July. Police now believe the weapon used to threaten the two Irish students was a plastic pellet gun purchased at Wal-Mart.
The students, both in their 20s and in the United States for the summer on working visas, managed to reach a nearby house to call for help after the assault. They were both treated at a nearby hospital and later released. Both have decided they will stay in the New Hampshire area for the remainder of the summer despite the assault, sources close to the investigation said. Arrangements will be made for them to return from Ireland to testify against Gordon.
Glen French, head of the Hampton Beach Chamber of Commerce, said that the community is outraged by the assault.
“This is a terrible failure of the justice system. This guy shouldn’t have been walking around,” he said.
According to French, the Hampton Beach population swells from 12,000 to 100,000 during the summer months, and many of the new residents are students from Ireland, England and France, working as chambermaids and waitresses.
“They’re a terrific asset to our community. People around here are very disturbed that something like this could happen,” he said.