Port Angeles man sentenced to four years for child rape

Man says victims were his friends, then ‘they weren’t’

PORT ANGELES — A 21-year-old Port Angeles man charged with seven counts of rape was sentenced to four years in prison last week for sexually assaulting three teenage girls.

Justin Michael Thayer raped the girls, ages 14-15, between April 29, 2019 and May 15, 2020, he admitted in his guilty plea in September.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree child rape and pleaded guilty under an Alford plea to third-degree rape. An Alford plea allows him to claim innocence but admit he could be convicted by a jury.

Thayer, who was 20 when the assaults occurred, had been charged in two cases, in one with a count of second-degree rape-forcible compulsion and three counts of third-degree child rape, and in the other with two counts of third-degree child rape and one of third-degree rape.

Two of the victims said they had been drinking heavily when Thayer assaulted them.

His sentencing Tuesday by Clallam County Superior Court Judge Simon Barnhart was delayed pending a presentence report.

Thayer was friends or had a sexual relationship with the victims, according to Thayer and the teens.

One victim, who was 14, said Thayer had started a sexual relationship with her when he was 18 that ended when he was 19, according to an arrest report.

Thayer said he had attended her 14th birthday party three months before the relationship began, according to the report. In her impact statement, the girl said Thayer was abusive and controlling, grabbing her by the neck for talking with other people and emotionally manipulating her for sex.

“Also, one other thing I want to add is how he would lie about how old I was to people,” the girl said. “Kinda just shows he knew what he was doing was wrong.”

According to his pre-sentence report, Thayer said he had sex with all three girls.

He said he graduated two years late from high school and was in special education classes. He worked at a tire store, McDonald’s and the Sequim Walmart.

Thayer has two sisters and a father in the Coast Guard, he said.

Thayer said he typically hangs out with younger people.

He moved into a trailer on the property of one of his victims, he said.

“He said he felt emotional, confused, frustrated and scared,” the investigator said.

“He stated he was unsure of what happened, the victims ‘were my friends, then in an instant, they weren’t my friends,’” according to the report.

“I asked Mr. Thayer how he thought the victims felt about all of this,” the investigator said.

“He said it all happened in one night,” according to the report.

“I was confused, I don’t know how they are doing,” Thayer said.

Third-degree child rape occurs when the perpetrator has intercourse with a victim who is at least 14 and younger than 16 and the perpetrator is at least 48 months older than the victim.

Third-degree rape occurs when there is no consent to sexual intercourse.

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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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