Hearing Friday on alleged violent sexual assault of elderly woman

PORT ANGELES — A judge determined Wednesday there is probable cause to jail a Port Angeles man on $250,000 bail pending possible charges that he sexually and physically assaulted a woman who is more than 60 years old and requires the assistance of a caregiver.

Clallam County Superior Court Judge Simon Barnhart set the bail for lifelong Port Angeles resident Reefer Jay Zentz Jr., 22, and a 1 p.m. hearing Friday for the potential filing of charges against him.

The woman, who was treated at Olympic Medical Center for a brain hemorrhage, according to an arrest report, told police Zentz attacked her Monday after he walked up to her while she was sitting in a chair and dumped out a glass of milk she was drinking.

She said he hit her in the head with a closed fist, knocked her to the floor, kicked her in the back, threatened to kill her with a knife, choked her by putting his foot on her throat and raped her, according to the arrest report.

He threatened to slit her throat if she said anything, according to the report.

Zentz was arrested in the area of the woman’s house shortly after 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

Barnhart, agreeing to hold Zentz for 72 hours pending the filing of charges, determined there was probable cause to arrest him for first-degree rape and first- and second-degree assault, all with additional allegations of domestic violence committed against a vulnerable adult.

State law defines a vulnerable adult as “a person 60 years of age or older with functional, physical, or mental inability to care for self.”

Barnhart also agreed Zentz, booked into the Clallam County jail at 11:33 p.m. Tuesday, should remain incarcerated for investigation of additional charges of first-degree incest-vulnerable adult, fourth-degree assault, assault in violation of a protection order and harassment-threats to kill “times two,” as Barnhart put it.

Zentz has a prior conviction for fourth-degree assault for sexual motivation for sexually assaulting the woman in a similar manner, according to the arrest report.

Charlie Commeree from Clallam Public Defender, representing Zentz, said he strongly objected to assault and rape charges but reserved making any objections to the conditions of release until a later date.

Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Steven Johnson said Zentz was illegally in the woman’s home in violation of the protection order “with an intent to commit a crime against the victim.”

He said Zentz had inflicted bruises all over her body, strangled her and caused her brain to hemorrhage.

“A no-contact order has not protected the victim in this case, has not protected the community, so a mere no-contact order will not suffice in this case,” Johnson said, arguing for the $250,000 bail.

Barnhart said the arguments that Commeree raised about crimes for which Zentz was arrested go more to proving guilt than to probable cause that Zentz committed them, which requires a lower threshold of proof.

“The state articulated concerns that the court shares regarding the utility in imposing conditions that fall short of some amount of bail given the nature of the allegations and the fact that there was a previous no-contact order in the place at the time of the alleged offense,” Barnhart said.

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

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