Lawrence rape defendant worked in public health

photo by: Mike Yoder

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St.

Story updated at 5:35 p.m. Monday, Nov. 12:

A man recently charged with rape in Douglas County works in the Lawrence public health community.

Erick W. Ogwangi, 33, of Lawrence, owns and operates a home for disabled adults in Lawrence. He previously did contract work, in a group setting, for the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

It’s not clear whether the alleged crime is connected to Ogwangi’s work or contact with the public.

The victim was a 26-year-old, and the alleged crime occurred in late January 2017, according to the criminal complaint provided to the Journal-World by the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office. Ogwangi is charged with engaging in intercourse when the woman was “unconscious or physically powerless.”

Though Ogwangi was charged and arrested last week, the crime was initially reported to Lawrence police four days after it occurred, according to the publicly available portion of the police report, requested Monday by the Journal-World. The report indicates the crime occurred in the early morning hours of Jan. 27, 2017.

Additional information about the circumstances was not publicly available.

The newspaper has requested more information about the location and circumstances of the incident from the Lawrence Police Department, but did not immediately receive a response Monday morning. The newspaper also has requested the affidavit in support of Ogwangi’s arrest through Douglas County District Court, but under Kansas law, the court has two weeks to respond to that request, whether a judge decides to release the document or not.

Erick W. Ogwangi

Ogwangi owns and runs Carpe Diem Community Living LLC, which is an adult care home licensed through the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services, said the department’s director of communications, Angela de Rocha. Late Friday, de Rocha said she was still trying to confirm the date the license became effective, as well as more information about the reported crime.

Carpe Diem was formed in November 2016, according to its listing with the Kansas Secretary of State’s Office. However, Carpe Diem’s Facebook posts indicate the business did not open a facility until months after the alleged crime occurred. The first post on the page was in early January 2017, but it wasn’t until July of that year that the house opened and its first client moved in.

The page describes Carpe Diem’s mission as “assisting intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals to live their everyday lives to the fullest through community involvement and choices.”

Ogwangi did not return calls or emails on Monday to either Carpe Diem or personal contact information listed for him.

Ogwangi was employed through a contract with the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department from September 2016 to February 2018 as a co-facilitator for the Healthy Dads program, according to department spokeswoman Karrey Britt. She said that program was provided at the health department with the Healthy Dads coordinator and that Ogwangi never provided one-on-one care or home visits.

Ogwangi is listed as a member of the city of Lawrence Homeless Issues Advisory Committee, for a two-year term scheduled to run through 2019.

He previously worked with Lawrence’s Sunrise Project as a community coordinator until February 2017, according to his LinkedIn profile. The profile indicates he has a health science management and community development degree from Wichita State University.

Ogwangi was charged Nov. 5 and arrested Nov. 7. Jail records indicate he was released the same day on $30,000 bond and ordered to make his first appearance in court on Nov. 21.

Case information, including whether he has hired an attorney, is not yet filed publicly in Douglas County District Court.

He has no previous cases in District Court. The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office declined to release Ogwangi’s booking photo to the Journal-World last week.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd