Sequim man found guilty of third-degree rape

Nathan Chavez

Nathan Chavez

PORT ANGELES — A jury of six men and six women found the Sequim father of four school-age children guilty Thursday of raping two 14-year-old girls he had befriended and with tampering with a witness in his case.

Chavez was found guilty of three counts of third-degree rape and one of third-degree child molestation involving a girl, now 17.

The jury agreed he violated his position of trust on the rape counts but not on a molestation count.

The jury also found Chavez guilty of one count of third-degree child rape of a child and not guilty of a second count of third-degree child rape involving another girl.

The jury found Chavez guilty of tampering with a male witness to induce the witness to change his testimony on Sept. 26, 2017.

Attorney Stan Myers, who represented Chavez, promised to appeal the verdict.

“I’m going to go back and look at the entire case again and just see what issues we have to present,” Myers said.

“We were hoping for a better result and have to figure out what our next steps are.”

Coughenour ordered a pre-sentencing report that could take 30-40 days and set no bail for the heavy equipment operator and former church trustee, whose duty it was to count and record church donations at his place of worship.

Chavez had been out on bail.

After the verdicts were read he stood up from the defense table, turned around to face the area reserved for spectators, laid his keys and wallet down on a waist-high barrier, and looked at supporters who had sat through the five-day trial.

He mouthed the words “I love you” before a sheriff’s deputy handcuffed him, led through the courthouse and to Clallam County jail without bail to await his July 26 sentencing before Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour.

One of Chavez’s victims, now 17, stood bleary eyed while the jury of six men and six women filed out of the courtroom.

The rapes began between Dec. 31, 2014, after a church-sponsored New Year’s Eve party, and Nov. 25, 2016, according to court documents.

One of the victims was in eighth grade at the time Chavez had sexual intercourse with her without her consent, Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Roberson said in his closing argument.

He said there was no evidence of physical violence or threats involving either girl.

Alcohol was involved in the assaults, according to testimony.

Myers had argued that there was no evidence that the assaults had taken place.

The charges were filed after the girls were approached in February 2017 by authorities who had been informed of the assaults by a friend of the girls.

FBI research shows that victims’ late disclosure of sex abuse is more common than not, according to testimony from sex-abuse victim expert Rob Welch, social and community services director for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Welch also said false allegation of sex abuse are rare.

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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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