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Ex-GOP consultant from Las Vegas arrested in Atlanta rape case

Updated October 14, 2020 - 3:22 pm

A year after prosecutors in Las Vegas threw out kidnapping and other charges against him, Republican consultant Benjamin Sparks was arrested late Tuesday in connection with an alleged rape in Atlanta.

Sparks’ lawyer could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

A Georgia woman reported that Sparks, who lives in Texas, raped her at an Airbnb last month after the two met on a dating app.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal does not typically identify victims of sex crimes, but Dawn Marie Budway agreed to share her name. She also made several social media posts about her allegations of a Sept. 27 attack, including details of her correspondence with police and videos that urged authorities to arrest Sparks.

Less than a week after she said she was raped, Budway wrote on Facebook: “Share my story. Use my name. I’m real. I’m a person and I have a face, and a voice.”

She said she called police in the early afternoon of Sept. 28 and later went to an emergency room where an officer showed up, and “I told my story to him,” along with a nurse, a doctor and a special victims detective. She also wrote that the next day she gave authorities Sparks’ name, age, picture and text messages.

On Oct. 4, Budway detailed her allegations, criticizing authorities for not immediately arresting Sparks.

In a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday, she spoke of Sparks’ arrest, which Atlanta police confirmed. He faces charges of rape, battery with substantial physical harm and simple battery, according to Fulton County Jail records. He is being held without bail, according to court records.

“Please continue to share my story,” Budway wrote, later adding, “This shouldn’t have happened. Las Vegas dropped the ball.”

Budway told the Review-Journal that she made the posts private after learning that Sparks was arrested.

Last year, prosecutors in Las Vegas dismissed four counts of second-degree kidnapping and one count of sexually motivated coercion against Sparks.

He had been accused of sexually enslaving and assaulting his former fiancee.

His attorney at the time said he believed Sparks’ former fiancee lied to authorities when she said he physically abused her and prevented her from leaving her apartment.

Sparks, who worked on an unsuccessful campaign for former U.S. Rep. Cresent Hardy of Nevada, was fired in early 2018 from his job as political affairs director for RedRock Strategies, a prominent GOP consulting firm. He worked on high-profile congressional campaigns, including that of New Mexico lawmaker Yvette Herrell, and national races, including Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and the anti-recall campaign of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2012.

Budway said she connected with Sparks on Tinder before meeting him at an Atlanta bar Sept. 25, a Friday.

He told her he was a business consultant traveling for work and appeared “charming and sweet,” she said, and they spent several hours together. She didn’t know his last name.

They met up at another bar that Sunday and watched football before heading back to his Airbnb loft apartment, where she claims she was attacked.

She said Sparks later allowed her to walk out of the apartment.

On her way to the hospital, she searched his phone number online, learned his name and found news articles about Las Vegas.

While most of her posts about that night are no longer public, she kept one from Oct. 1, which depicts Lady Justice, head in hands, below the words “HELP ME GET JUSTICE!”

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Follow @randompoker on Twitter.

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