Man displaced by Florence accused of raping Southern Pines woman

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— Police say a Brunswick County man displaced from his home by Hurricane Florence is accused of raping a Moore County woman who let him stay in her home.

Freeman Scott Ireland, 37, a convicted murderer, is now charged with second-degree forcible rape. Investigators say the Southern Pines woman, who is deaf, was assaulted as she slept Monday, and Ireland was still inside the home at the Creston Commons Apartment Complex when officers arrived.

Residents in the area are shocked and believed Freeman and the victim to be a couple.

“They were a couple. She’d come home to check the mailbox with the dogs and get into the car and go on to their apartment,” said Tashona Graham, a neighbor.

Michael Watson lives downstairs from where the rape is alleged to have occurred. He says the woman and Ireland were no strangers to each other.

“He was a friend of hers and came up here because of the hurricane, and she let him stay a couple of days,” said Watson. “That’s when the incident occurred.”

According to police, Ireland was on supervised release from the state Department of Public Safety after serving time for second-degree murder and armed robbery. His Brunswick County home was damaged in the hurricane, and police said he was looking to relocate to Moore County.

Ireland was jailed under a $500,000 secured bond. It’s not known if he has an attorney.