Prosecutors in Cowlitz County, WA., have had the victim of an alleged rape and kidnapping arrested and briefly held to ensure that she would show up for her court dates.
According to TDN, the unidentified 43-year-old woman, who is both the victim and prime witness in the case, has not been charged with any crime. She wasn’t showing up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors, despite promises to do so.
Using a rarely requested procedure under state law that allows police to arrest a witness of a crime to ensure they show up for court, prosecutors obtained a judge’s order for a material witness warrant.
Chief Criminal Deputy James Smith said such warrants are rare and requested only “as a last resort.”
Prosecutors said they can’t comment directly on an on-going case, however Smith said that the severity of the charges is a factor in taking such an extreme step.
The defendant, Donald Howard McElfish, has been charged with first-degree attempted rape, indecent liberties with forcible compulsion, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault with sexual motivation.
According to court documents, the woman was forced into McElfish’s living quarters by her ex-boyfriend, Brandt Lyle Jensen. She was ordered to undress and Jensen — armed with a knife — taped her to a chair. Jensen then compelled the woman to perform sex acts for McElfish to pay off a supposed debt, implying that she’d be hurt if she didn’t. Jensen then left the room and McElfish attempted to have sexual intercourse with her.
She later escaped and ran naked through the woods to a nearby home for help.
Jensen has signed a plea deal with prosecutors in return for his to testimony against McElfish. He has yet to be sentenced for second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault.
After her arrest the victim spent only one night in jail, appearing in court the following day.
After Deputy Prosecutor Amie Hunter explained that the woman often sleeps on various friends’ couches and thus can’t be easily reached, Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning let the woman go with an order to appear weekly at the Hall of Justice or more often at prosecutor’s request. Additionally he ordered that she must stay at her parents’ home until the trial starts.
“Do you understand?” Warning asked. “If the prosecutors try to contact you and you’re not there, there will be another warrant out for you, and you’ll be going back to jail. And this time you’re not getting let out.”
The woman has since missed one of her court-ordered meetings.
When court officials contacted her parents, they said she had not been in contact with her since before Christmas.
[Police officer arresting a woman with handcuffs on Shutterstock]