Centralia rape charge that ended in mistrial is dismissed

Saturday, December 24, 2016 at 12:00 pm
2015.0612.lawandorder.final

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By Sharyn L. Decker
Lewis County Sirens news reporter

CHEHALIS – A judge has found a Lewis County rape case must be dismissed because of intentional governmental misconduct by the sheriff’s deputy assisting the prosecutor during the trial.

The trial in Lewis County Superior Court began and then ended the same day last month in a mistrial.

Jordan T. White, 23, of Centralia, was facing a charge of second-degree rape for an alleged incident in 2014 at a rural Centralia home involving a young woman with whom he had somewhat of an intimate relationship.

Lewis County Superior Court Judge Nelson Hunt decided last week to dismiss the case. At issue was nonverbal communication in front of the jury by Lewis County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Justin Rodgers, who was seated at the prosecutor’s table for the trial. Rodgers investigated the case.

Defense attorney Shane O’Rourke and Lewis County Deputy Prosecutor Melissa Bohm each filed a proposed written order to document the judge’s decision. The two differed in how to characterize what occurred.

This week, the two lawyers and Judge Hunt spent almost an hour in a hearing discussing what the order should state. The document is called Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.

They agreed that Deputy Rodgers, while seated next to Bohm, dropped his pen onto the table at a particular point during the trial which drew the attention of members of the jury. He also had gestured to the alleged victim while she was on the witness stand.

“Deputy Rodgers engaged in intentional governmental misconduct by showing his disgust at the defendant’s version of events and communicating with the alleged victim through hand gestures during her testimony,” Hunt said of the wording he would adopt in the final document.

Judge Hunt went on to say that when the jury was sent out of the room and he questioned the deputy about his actions, the deputy was not immediately forthcoming in his answers.

The state has 30 days in which to decide if it will appeal the dismissal, according to Lewis County Prosecutor Jonathan Meyer.

The mistrial occurred on Nov. 29. Follow up hearings were held on Dec. 14 and this past Wednesday.

The incident was reported in the spring of 2015 to the sheriff’s office and charges were filed late this summer. The alleged victim said she was heavily intoxicated and realized the next morning she had been anally penetrated, according to court documents. White told the deputy what they did was her idea, because she wanted to remain a virgin, according to the documents.

O’Rourke said his client has mixed feelings about the outcome of his case.

“I think a lot of people would expect relief, or jubilance,” he said. “It’s not like that.”

Their position on the case was White was wrongly charged and they had been prepared to go all the way to a verdict, O’Rourke said.

An attempt to seek comment from Deputy Rodgers through the sheriff’s office resulted in Chief Deputy Dusty Breen stating that neither they nor the deputy would comment. Breen said the sheriff’s office would review what occurred.
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For background, read “Rape case: Trial cut short in Lewis County Superior Court” from Wednesday November 30, 2016, here

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6 Responses to “Centralia rape charge that ended in mistrial is dismissed”

  1. Bo Rupert says:

    I submitted this formal complaint to Commander Dusty Breen two weeks ago.

    Dear Commander Breen,

    This is a formal complaint against Deputy Justin Rodgers for his conduct during the trial of Jordan T. White. The conduct described in an article on the news site Lewis County Sirens dated November 30, 2016 concerns me, worries me, and I personally believe that he needs to be reprimanded for his actions and the conduct that he participated in.

    This Deputy has committed some very serious constitutional right violations, wasted a large amount of tax payers dollars by causing the mistrial due to his conduct, cheated a sexual abuse/rape victim out of justice IF she in fact was raped, and violated the defendant Jordan T. White’s right to have a fair and impartial jury. The very purpose of our judicial system in this country is for victims and defendants to receive justice through fair and impartial hearings. Misconduct like this deputy participated in violates and disrupts the very rights and purposes that our judicial system stands for.

    I completely understand that Police Officers deal with and see some very disturbing things that are very rough. I also acknowledge that Police Officer’s have feelings as well. However, to act that way in a court room during a court proceeding and cheat a potential rape victim out of justice, violate a defendant’s right to have a fair and impartial jury, and to waste tax payers money on court hearings and cases that he ruined is completely unacceptable and this needs to be addressed. This is not an effort to come after this deputy but to have this conduct addressed.

    I also want to state that a simple talking to, or a slap on the wrist is too lenient for this type of inappropriate conduct. If any citizen would have done this they would have been arrested and put in the Lewis County Jail for Contempt of Court and/or Disorderly Conduct. The only reason that this Deputy was not arrested and charged for such crimes is because he has a badge. Please do your duty and do the right thing and punish this deputy for his conduct.

    Respectfully,

    Bo D. Rupert

  2. Oly Boy says:

    And now in today’s paper it shows the officer lied to the judge until such time the judge forcefully called him out on it! Isn’t that what normally earns a cop a Brady letter? What else can you do with a cop that lies to a judges face in his own courtroom?

  3. Peabody Slim says:

    If a police officer is willing to act this way in court just imagine how he acts on his job with no dash or body cameras. I rest my case about the need for cameras.

  4. BobbyinLC says:

    If this was intentional misconduct and then the deputy is “not forthcoming” with the judge, time for disciplinary action against that deputy. Now a rape victim will not see justice served.

  5. Mad momma says:

    Typical BS from Lewis County.

  6. Peabody Slim says:

    No dash cameras no body cameras but plenty of Fluoride in the public drinking water. You figure it out.

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