PORT ANGELES — A Kent man who admitted to sexually assaulting a 14-year-old family friend at a rented lakeside cabin in Olympic National Park will be sentenced to up to 87 months, according to Western Federal District Court documents.
Christopher James Kuna, 36, pleaded guilty Thursday in Seattle to a federal charge of sex abuse under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On Aug. 17, a week shy of a year after the alcohol-fueled assault, U.S. District Court Judge Benjamin H. Settle could sentence Kuna to up to 87 months — more than seven years — in prison, as recommended in the agreement.
Settle can impose a punishment of up to a maximum term of life in prison.
Kuna had been charged additionally with attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a minor and sexual abuse of a minor. His trial was scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Kuna admitted to forcing the girl to engage in a sexual act “by threatening or placing” her in fear, according to the federal statute covering sex abuse.
He said he attended a family gathering at the cabin, giving the girl so much alcohol — while people gathered around a fire pit — that she vomited, and in the early morning hours of Aug. 25, assaulted her in her bedroom.
Kuna was a close family friend and a consistent presence in the girl’s life, “someone with whom she felt particularly close,” according to the criminal complaint.
According to the plea agreement, Kuna assaulted her multiple times.
“At no point during the assault did she give him permission to do the things he did to her,” it said.
“[The girl] was so shocked and afraid that she froze, hoping that if she remained still and did not resist, the assault would end quickly.
“She feared that if she resisted, Kuna might become angry and did not know what he might do.”
According to the complaint, Kuna’s attentiveness toward the girl made those close to her uncomfortable, and there was reluctancy to invite him to the family gathering because of his history of partying and drinking.
He started molesting her shortly after 1 a.m. Aug. 25 when she became drunk and assaulted her a few hours later after lying with her in bed.
Kuna talked to her during the assault, saying, “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time” and “we have to be quiet,” according to the complaint.
The next morning, she texted a male friend who was part of the gathering the night before.
“I should have known,” he said, according to the complaint. “I just knew something was off. Kuna was touching her all night.”
Kuna had told him and the girl he had been sexually assaulted as a child.
When the girl’s father confronted Kuna, accusing him of raping his daughter, Kuna apologized, according to the complaint.
The girl’s father said Kuna’s facial expression “was like, his skin was melting off his face, like when you get caught stealing a candy bar at the store when you’re a 5-year-old,” the complaint said.
In an interview with law enforcement, Kuna said he did not remember what happened and had blacked out from the effects of alcohol and cocaine. He said he remembered putting the girl to bed and said he stayed downstairs in the cabin.
“He thought they had a good relationship,” according to the complaint.
Kuna was en route to check himself into Western State Hospital on Aug. 31. It was unclear in the complaint if he did so.
A Sept. 12 search of Kuna’s parents’ residence under a federal warrant turned up a suicide note, which Kuna’s father said his son had written and in which Kuna apologizes and says he remembers nothing.
“Last I remember is the fire pit, after that it’s all blank. I blacked out,” the note said.
“Donate everything to a good charity.”
Kuna signs it, “remember my good side.”
A family friend reported the assaults to local law enforcement, according to a U.S. Attorney’s Office press release.
The case was investigated by the National Park Service and the FBI.
Court documents did not identify where the cabin was in Olympic National Park where the assault occurred.
Lakeside-rented cabins in Olympic National Park are at Lake Crescent Lodge and Log Cabin Resort, park spokesperson Penny Wagner said Friday in an email.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].