Port Townsend man pleads not guilty to third-degree rape, molestation

PORT ANGELES — A Port Townsend man charged with third-degree rape and molestation pleaded not guilty Wednesday.

The 22-year-old man is charged with raping and molesting a 15-year-old Port Angeles girl three times in 6½ hours.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour set a March 11 trial date for Chad Edward Neet. A status hearing is Feb. 7.

Neet is charged with two counts of third-degree child rape and one count of third-degree child molestation that allegedly occurred between noon and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 2, according an arrest report by Sheriff’s Deputy Stacy Sampson.

The girl told a sheriff’s deputy Dec. 5 that Neet sexually assaulted at her home east of Port Angeles, inside Agnew Grocery and Feed and in the Peninsula Evangelical Friends Church parking lot while inside and outside of his vehicle, according to the arrest report.

She said Neet, who was 21 when the alleged assaults occurred, was drinking beer during the day.

Witnesses and store receipts corroborated the girl’s statement on time frames and activities before and after the incidents, Sampson said in the report.

Evidence includes the girl’s torn underwear that Neet allegedly removed “forcefully” after leaving the grocery, according to the report.

Sampson said during a Dec. 18 phone conversation between the girl and Neet that was intercepted by authorities under a court order, Neet confirmed the sexual contact, apologized and “begged her not to tell anyone or he would go to prison.”

Sampson said Neet told her in a Dec. 20 interview that he had sexual contact with the girl.

Neet was booked into the Clallam County jail that same day.

Judge Christopher Melly found probable cause for the charges Dec. 21 during a first-appearance hearing.

He set $20,000 bail requested by the county prosecuting attorney’s office and Wednesday for the filing of formal charges. Neet has posted bond.

Neet, represented Friday by Clallam Public Defender Harry Gasnick, was represented Wednesday by private attorney Noah Harrison of Port Townsend.

Neet is not allowed to have contact with persons under 16 years old, the age of consent in Washington state.

Harrison successfully argued Wednesday that Neet should be allowed to have contact with three family members ages 7 and younger if an adult family member is present.

In setting bail, Melly emphasized that Neet allegedly tried to discuss the case with the alleged victim and may have attempted to discourage evidence from being presented that is pertinent to the case.

Bail of $20,000 “is a fair number,” Melly said, agreeing to set the amount recommended by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steve Johnson.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].

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