PORT ANGELES — A Port Angeles man has been sentenced to almost four years in prison for attempted indecent liberties-forcible compulsion with an unconscious 19-year-old woman at an Aug. 14, 2016, house party.
Seth Lee Owens, 24, who had pleaded guilty to the Class A felony after first being charged with second-degree rape, was sentenced Tuesday by Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour to 45 months and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michele Devlin and Coughenour said there was not enough physical evidence to justify a rape charge against Owens, who told investigators he had blacked out and had no memory of the incident.
“What is really fortunate is that friends intervened and were able to stop what could have possibly been worse,” Coughenour said.
“It’s clear to me, Mr. Owens, that alcohol was the primary ingredient in this for actually both of you.”
Friends at the party were looking for the woman when they discovered her, fully clothed, on the bedroom floor with Owens on top of her with his pants down, according to court records that said the arresting scene was photographed by a friend and became part of the case record.
The woman had been drinking vodka provided by Owens, gotten sick and fallen asleep on a couch before Owens picked her up and took her into the bedroom, according to court records.
She woke up the next morning at a friend’s house, according to a 15-minute statement the woman read Tuesday in court.
She stood before Coughenour, looking directly at Owens, who was sitting mutely at the defense table, from about 20 feet away while she described the impact of that night — and the void in her memory.
“I will never know what happened that night you were caught before it went too far,” she said. “I consider myself lucky because I can’t remember.”
Before that night, she was living her life to the fullest, she said.
“You made me a victim,” she told Owens.
“I can’t do anything alone.
“It’s embarrassing how dependent I have become.
“I had to relearn how to love myself.
“You destroyed me.
“You are getting exactly what you deserve.
“I didn’t want to live anymore.
She said she hopes Owens views the sentence as a wake-up call and takes it as an opportunity to better himself.
“You should never have done this to me, but here we are, the damage is done.
“We all have a choice.
“I can remain angry and hurt, you can be in denial.”
“I hope you get the mental help you need and make a positive difference on this world.”
Owens “feels terrible about this,” said Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger, representing Owens.
“He is not in any way making excuses for what happened.”
Owens has a conviction for driving under the influence, according to his state Department of Corrections pre-sentence report.
He said he first drank alcohol at age 18 and would “often” drink two six-packs of 16-ounce beers an evening before his arrest, according to the report.
Owens said he remembered little from when he went to the party that night and woke up the next day.
He said he recalled a porch at the house, a political debate, some people yelling and pushing, and waking up at home in the middle of the afternoon the next day assuming that he had walked home.
A male at the party said the woman had fallen asleep on a couch when he saw Owens pick her up and carry her to the bedroom, describing her as “limp, which led him to believe that she was unconscious,” according to the pre-sentence report.
“Seth made no effort to wake [the woman] up.”
From five to 15 minutes later, after hearing someone ask where the woman was, the male who had seen Owens pick her up said he had seen him carry her to the bedroom, where her friends found Owens on top of her, according to the report.
The report described Owens, who did not graduate from high school, as “hyper-religious and most of his activities have revolved around his church.”
A former high school athlete, he participated in a two-year program offered by Ankeny, Iowa-based Inste College.
“His future goals include being a Christian minister,” the report said.
Owens said four times in court that he is “sorry.”
“There are no words to describe any of this [that] happened,” he said.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry to everyone,” he said, including the woman.
“Especially, no person, man or woman, deserves to go through any of this, and I can’t believe even myself that I have done this.
“All I hope I can do is go forward a better person, a stronger person, and just pray the same for her.”
Coughenour praised the woman for having the courage to make her statement in court “and lay it on the line,” he said.
“You are not a victim, you are a survivor.
“In that regard, you even have that special strength to say, ‘I hope you change,’ and so you can look at Mr. Owens and say, ‘I hope you turn your life around and be a better person.’
“That takes a lot of strength, and I commend you for that.”
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].