A 19-year-old registered sex offender with a long history of violations pleaded not guilty Friday to raping a 14-year-old Prairie High School schoolmate.
Jeremiah C. Thompson was arraigned on a charge of third-degree rape of a child, a Class C felony. He allegedly met the victim, a 14-year-old freshman girl, at the WinCo Foods store just north of campus. They later had sex at Thompson’s home.
The sexual activity is a crime because of the girl’s age. The age of consent in Washington is 16.
Clark County Superior Court Judge Diane Woolard set a tentative trial date of June 11.
Defense attorney Lou Byrd said he planned to file several motions in the case because of the intense media coverage, saying he worried his client wouldn’t receive a fair trial.
“I’m somewhat concerned by the level of media attention this case is generating,” Byrd told the judge. “I’m somewhat shocked by the information already out there.”
Thompson’s case has drawn wide media attention this week after The Columbian published a story detailing his history of sex offenses. Following his April 12 arrest, the case raised questions about when parents and students — who had no idea of Thompson’s status — should be notified that a sex offender attends a school.
State law prevents such information from being shared at school.
Thompson was ordered to register as a sex offender after being sentenced in February 2010 for sexually assaulting his mother. He also accepted a plea deal that year — to a misdemeanor charge of communication with a minor for immoral purposes — relating to allegations he molested a 7-year-old girl.
The Prairie freshman told sheriff’s deputies that Thompson, a Prairie senior, met her at Winco and took her to his home to have sex, according to court documents. The girl sought medical attention and requested a rape kit after the incident.
Prosecutors filed the rape charge Monday. It seeks a sentence above the standard sentencing range because of the “aggravating circumstance” of his misdemeanor criminal history.
The charging documents call the sentencing range “clearly, too lenient.”
A conviction of third-degree rape of child for a defendant with no prior felony criminal history carries a sentencing range of 12 to 14 months in prison.