Vancouver attorney pleads not guilty to sex crimes

He's accused of raping girl, 9, in his Sunday school class




A Vancouver attorney pleaded not guilty Wednesday to raping a 9-year-old girl in his Sunday school class.

Ryan D. Whitaker, 58, was arraigned on two counts of first-degree rape of a child or, in the alternative, first-degree child molestation. Trial was set for March 5.

Whitaker, who is free on $20,000 bail, has retained attorney Josephine Townsend to represent him.

Whitaker was arrested Nov. 22 at his downtown law office after the girl alleged that Whitaker had sexually abused her on several occasions during services at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the 9700 block of Northeast 50th Avenue.

The girl said the alleged abuse occurred between February and September of this year. The alleged victim alerted a bishop and her parents, according to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court.

The charges allege that Whitaker used his position of trust to facilitate the crime and that he showed an ongoing pattern of behavior.

A witness told sheriff’s investigators that he noticed Whitaker paid special attention to the girl. Whitaker declined to make a statement, according to the affidavit.

In a previous court appearance, Whitaker denied even knowing the girl.

According to state bar records, Whitaker has been a lawyer since 1992 and has handled civil litigation, criminal, probate, family law and personal injury cases. Whitaker’s law firm website lists him as specializing in family law.