"Blind Date" Makes Police Connection
Since its premiere in 1999, Blind Date has orchestrated about 2,000 dates, countless hot-tubbing moments--and one inadvertent collar.
Law enforcement officials in Ventura, California, are crediting the syndicated dating show with helping them nab a man wanted in connection with a year-old kidnap and rape case.
Ulrick K. White was arrested Sunday--his 31st birthday--by police in nearby Santa Barbara after his alleged victim recognized him as one of the lust-seeking singles from a recent episode of Blind Date.
White is being held on $500,000 bail, Ventura County Deputy District Attorney Doug Ridley said. At a brief court appearance Wednesday, White was given a Nov. 10 arraignment date.
The reality TV player faces up to life in prison if convicted of the three felony counts against him, Ridley said.
In a warrant issued for his arrest last March (and posted on The Smoking Gun on Wednesday), White is accused of raping and kidnapping an unnamed woman on Sept. 6, 2003.
The woman told authorities she met White when he offered her a ride home from a Ventura County bar. Sounds from the alleged ensuing assault were captured on police 9-1-1 tapes thanks to the woman's in-use cell phone, Ridley said.
The reputed victim, having recently seen a TV show on how to survive attacks, had turned on the cell in the hopes that police would be able to pinpoint her location, Ridley said.
More than a year later, yet another TV show came to the woman's aid.
On Oct. 22, the woman had Blind Date playing in the background when she recognized White's voice--"a heavy Jamaican accent"--and heard his nickname, Aswah, Ventura Police Sgt. Sean Conroy said.
The woman popped a video in her VCR, and delivered the tape to detectives the next day, Conroy said.
White was not unknown to police. They'd known precisely who they were looking for all along because he'd left his phone number with the woman, Conroy said.
After the alleged attack, White demanded to know the woman's cell phone number so he could call her later, Conroy explained. When he called later as promised, police linked the phone number to him, Conroy said.
"The problem was we couldn't find him," Conroy said.
Authorities were mum on exactly how the TV show turned them onto a man whom they'd described as transient. A Blind Date spokesman declined comment Wednesday, confirming only that White appeared on the Roger Lodge-hosted show. (Per the Blind Date Website, White, or Aswah, as he was billed, "likes freaky women, and...thinks that all women who fit the bill are equally attracted to him.")
Once the Blind Date sighting was made, the pieces fell into place, Conroy said. A Santa Barbara address surfaced, an outstanding misdemeanor case for alleged breaking and entering surfaced, and, on Sunday, White surfaced, lured to Santa Barbara by police posing as potential employers, Conroy said.
"Eventually we would have gotten hold of him," Conroy said. "[But Blind Date] was key. It certainly opened a new avenue and led to his capture."
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