Courtney Wayne Dawson tried to buy his way out of rape and kidnapping charges with $5,000 and a plane ticket to Las Vegas.
But his young victim would have none of it, and as a result Dawson was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison after a hearing in King County Superior Court.
The Seattle woman, who is now 20, testified and was praised by prosecutors for her courage.
Dawson, a 38-year-old Colorado businessman, pleaded guilty last month to first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and bribing a witness. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to dismiss a rape charge filed in an Oregon court involving a 50-year-old woman who was raped at knife point by Dawson two years ago, prosecutors told King County Superior Court Judge Timothy Bradshaw.
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Dawson’s Seattle victim, who was working as a prostitute when Dawson picked her up in a rented SUV, had both her hands slashed with a knife during the August 2011 assault.
After his arrest in Colorado and extradition to King County, Dawson attempted to bribe the woman through another jail inmate who knew her.
The woman refused to recant because she was afraid Dawson would go free to rape, and maybe even kill, the next young woman who climbed into his car, court records say.
During Friday’s sentencing hearing, Bradshaw called Dawson’s conduct “misogynistic (and) dehumanizing.”
“To add insult to injury,” Dawson’s bribe was “an attempt to prostitute the criminal-justice system itself,” Bradshaw said.
Because Dawson pleaded guilty to a violent sex crime, it will be up to the state‘s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board to determine whether to release him after he’s served his sentence or add additional time to his prison term.
Bradshaw ordered Dawson to undergo a sexual-deviancy evaluation and, if he is released from prison, to register as a sex offender.
Dawson’s defense attorney, John Henry Browne, joined the two senior deputy prosecutors assigned to the case, Val Richey and Hugh Barber, in recommending the 16-year sentence. Browne said his client had confessed to the crime and could have risked a life sentence had he gone to trial on the Seattle and Portland cases.
Richey said Dawson “sorely underestimated” his Seattle victim, and commended her strength and sense of justice in pursuing criminal charges. Both victims “come from the fringe of our society, come from a class of people who generally are not believed,” but both showed incredible dedication to the case, he said.
After the Seattle rape on Aug. 8, 2011, the case stalled for five months until Seattle police Detective Ron Brundage received a bulletin from a Portland detective identifying Dawson as a person of interest in a series of rapes of prostitutes there.
The detectives compared notes, analyzed Dawson’s credit-card history and located the rented SUV, which had the Seattle victim’s blood inside, according to court records. Dawson was arrested at his home in Arvada, Colo., in April 2012 and brought back to King County.
Dawson’s Seattle victim, who was accompanied to court by Brundage on Friday, briefly addressed the judge.
“My hands are really messed up,” she said, referring to the deep cuts she suffered when Dawson slashed her, adding that she suffers from some residual fear from the attack.
Her real concern was to make sure Dawson doesn’t hurt anyone else.
“What if he does it to another girl, or a younger girl? I just don’t think that it’s safe for him to be out.”
The Portland woman, who was also working as a prostitute when she was raped, addressed the court by speaker phone:
“Mr. Dawson, you have destroyed my life,” she said. “July 19, 2011, was the worst day of my life when you raped me … I hope every day you’re in prison, you think about what you’ve done. I hope you rot in there.”
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org