Man jailed after allegedly groping woman in laundromat

PORT ANGELES — A 45-year-old man remained in the Clallam County jail Wednesday on $10,000 bail after he was arrested for investigation of allegedly groping a woman at a Port Angeles laundromat.

Superior Court Judge Simon Barnhart set bail for Matthew Lee Houser on Wednesday after finding probable cause that Houser committed indecent liberties-domestic violence and fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation-domestic violence before dawn Sunday morning.

Houser and the 46-year-old woman had a prior romantic relationship, according to a police report.

Barnhart placed Houser on a 72-hour hold, appointed Port Angeles lawyer Karen Unger to represent him, and set a 1 p.m. hearing Friday for the potential filing of charges by the county Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Sarah Woolman asked for the $10,000 bail despite what she said was Houser’s limited criminal history.

“The basis of this request is based upon the concern that the defendant would commit a violent offense in the community without additional bail being imposed,” Woolman said.

“What’s concerning to the state here is that the defendant allegedly, at this point, assaulted the victim in a public place multiple times,” she added, citing Houser’s statements to a police dispatcher immediately afterward.

Houser can be seen on surveillance video at a 24-hour laundromat in Port Angeles kissing and grabbing the woman at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday before the two left the laundromat separately, according to the report.

Minutes later, Houser walked to the police station to explain his version of events.

He told dispatch the woman is a “vindictive bitch,” is verbally abusive, and that “he is allowed to touch her if she wants,” according to the police report.

The video showed Houser and the woman initially dancing around the laundromat before he began attention she said was unwanted.

Port Angeles Police Officer TJ Mueller interviewed the woman Monday after she was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant. She was being held Wednesday without bond on charges including resisting arrest.

She said she and Houser were standing near the laundromat soda machine when Houser began assaulting her. She was not injured.

“[The woman] said she needs counseling services after the interaction,” the police report said.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

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