Vancouver rapist sentenced to 11 months

Man forced himself on friend after both had drunk alcohol

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A judge on Friday sentenced a 23-year-old Vancouver man to 11 months in prison for raping a close friend after a night of drinking in May 2011.

A Clark County jury convicted Cody J. Dornbirer of third-degree rape July 19, just one year after a jury in Coos County, Ore., acquitted him of a similar crime in Coos Bay.

"You got away with (rape) before," said Clark County Superior Court Judge John Nichols. "You're not going to get away with it this time."

The punishment was one month short of the maximum sentence of 12 months allowed under state law. Dornbirer will be required to register as a sex offender after his release and to undergo substance-abuse treatment.

Deputy Senior Prosecutor Camara Banfield, the victim and her family had argued for the maximum sentence.

In a tearful delivery to the court, the 27-year-old victim told the judge that the rape would affect her for the rest of her life. As she spoke, a paper copy of her statement fluttered in her trembling hands.

"My whole sense of security with guys … even close friends … has changed because Cody was considered a member of our family," the victim said.

Her father called Dornbirer a "narcissist," who has no empathy for the feelings of others, which "makes him a danger to the community."

"You are in the position of protecting other daughters … by making him serve the maximum sentence for his crime," the father said.

Banfield said Dornbirer squandered multiple opportunities to reform, including when he was charged with raping a fellow college student in October 2011 at Southwestern Oregon Community College in Coos Bay.

A Coos County jury acquitted him in June 2012 of those charges, including first-degree rape, first-degree sex abuse and first-degree unlawful penetration.

After he was transported to Vancouver to face more rape charges and then released on bond, he was charged with driving under the influence, a case that has not yet been resolved. In March, his grandmother reported to her bank that Dornbirer had stolen money from her, Banfield said.

"No matter how many times he is faced with the consequences of breaking the law, he cannot follow the law and continues to put the community at risk," Banfield said.

Dornbirer apologized for his actions, blaming them primary on his alcohol problem.

"What I did was very selfish and immature -- but most of all, it was wrong," he said.

He asked the judge for leniency, the minimum six-month sentence.

Dornbirer's attorney, Mark Muenster, said his client should not be sentenced based on charges for which he was acquitted. He said the judge should consider his client's lack of felony history and consider that both Dornbirer and the victim were drinking on the night of the rape.

"There should be no doubt that alcohol, with its well-known corrosive effect on judgment, played a major role in what happened," the defense attorney wrote in a sentencing memo.

The jury of eight men and four women in the case could not return a verdict on charges of second-degree rape and indecent liberties by forcible compulsion. Instead, they appeared to convict him of a lesser charge of third-degree rape. Banfield said the jurors were distressed when they learned Dornbirer faced no more than a year in prison for the crime.

"It nearly brought many of them to their knees," Banfield said.

Many had thought he would spend years in prison for the crime, she said.

According to court documents, the victim allowed Dornbirer to stay the night at her Vancouver home on May 28, 2011, after an evening out drinking with mutual friends. While she spoke to a friend on the phone, Dornbirer took the phone from her and wouldn't give it back. When she tried to retrieve it, he pushed her onto her bed and pinned her down. Despite her repeated requests to stop, he raped her, the court documents say.


Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; paris.achen@columbian.com.