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Man previously held at McNeil Island investigated for alleged rape in Spokane

UPDATED: Wed., Sept. 30, 2020

A man previously committed to McNeil Island Special Commitment Center is now being investigated on suspicion of rape and impersonation for allegedly pretending to work for the counseling program, where he was in treatment as a sex offender and coercing a woman into sex.

Mikaeel Azeem, also known as Lawrence Williams, was released from prison in March 2019 after serving more than 7 years for distributing crack cocaine on McNeil Island.

McNeil Island Special Commitment Center is where people convicted of sex crimes can be sent after serving prison time if they meet the legal definition of “sexually violent predator,” meaning they are likely to engage in repeat sexual violence.

Azeem, then Williams, was convicted of raping multiple women in the Seattle area in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was committed to McNeil in 2004, according to the Department of Justice.

In 2008, an investigation revealed he had been distributing crack cocaine to fellow inmates after convincing an employee to smuggle in the drugs. He was eventually convicted of conspiracy to distribute cocaine and witness tampering.

A lengthy story in Seattle Weekly detailed how Azeem allegedly seduced medical staff on the island, which played a part in the eventual drug conviction.

During his time in prison, Williams converted to Islam, changing his name to Mikaeel Youf Azeem.

After serving 87 months of his 108 month sentence, Azeem’s probation began in March 2019.

In August, a woman called Crime Check saying she paid Azeem nearly $3,000 for food and housing after he lied about working for a counseling service, according to federal court documents. She also reported he had raped someone she knew, according to federal court documents. The relationship between the woman who reported the crime and the rape victim was not outlined in court documents.

The woman who filed the report said she received a call from Azeem saying he worked for Phoenix Counseling Services, where the rape victim had been housed and fed, according to court documents. Azeem said they needed payment for those services.

The woman asked Azeem to send her a receipt for the services, which he did. She then sent what she thought was Phoenix Counseling Services a check for $2,450.

A few days later she received a call from the owner of Phoenix Counseling Services saying Azeem was not an employee, but rather a member of their sex offender program, according to court records.

That’s when the woman who reported the crime reached out to the victim, whose room and board she was supposedly paying for. The rape victim told her Azeem forced her into having sex, claiming it was payment for him providing her food and housing, court records show.

While the crime is still under investigation, federal prosecutors argued that Azeem violated his supervised release by committing second-degree criminal impersonation and the alleged rape.

A warrant was issued for Azeem’s arrest on Sept. 18 by U.S. District Court Judge Thomas O. Rice. He was arrested three days later on Sept. 21, according to the Spokane County Jail inmate roster.

The next day, federal prosecutors filed a motion for detention requesting Azeem be held without bail, pending a probation and revocation hearing.

Prior to the alleged offense, Azeem’s probation was set to end on Oct. 30.

Editor’s Note: This story has been update to reflect that Lawrence Williams changed his name to Mikaeel Youf Azeem while in prison not during his time on McNeil Island. The story has also been update to clarify that the payee sent money to what she thought was Phoenix Counseling Services, when it was in fact Azeem.

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