Fuquay-Varina teen accused of student rape

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Zachary Sean Ihler (image courtesy Raleigh-Wake City-County Bureau of Identification)

Two Fuquay-Varina High School students say a 17-year-old fellow student sexually assaulted them.

On February 25, a 16-year-old came forward and said she was sexually assaulted in a home and police began investigating.

While that investigation was ongoing, a second 16-year-old reported the same suspect assaulted her at a baseball game on campus March 15.

"These allegations happened approximately three weeks apart involving two separate victims of the same age both involving acts of force and serious sexual crimes," said prosecutor Meredith Parris at a hearing Tuesday for 17-year-old Zachary Sean Ihler.

Ihler, of Fuquay-Varina is charged with second-degree forcible sexual offense, second-degree forcible rape, and attempted second-degree forcible rape. He turned himself in Monday.

In court Tuesday, Ihler's attorney defended the teen.

"Mr. Ihler did not deny that there were amorous intentions, but that when she asked him to stop he did stop," said Mike Klinkosum.

The prosecutor said one of the alleged victims says she made it clear verbally and in writing prior to the encounter with Ihler that she did not want intercourse. She says she told him to stop but he penetrated. He stopped when she told him a second time.

"She reported fighting him off physically and verbally telling him no and he persisted in his actions. And so the fact that these investigations were still ongoing from the first time and his name comes up a second time is of particular concern to the state in the protection of these young ladies and potentially any other victims that would come forward," said Parris.

But Klinkosum said the allegations are not accurate.

"I think once this comes out in the wash - so to speak - it may not be nearly as severe as what he is charged with," he offered.

But Parris said the teen knew what he allegedly did was wrong.

"The text messages immediately following the first encounter recovered from his phone make it clear that he said, 'I shouldn't have done that. I'm sorry. I suck.'"

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