Man allegedly choked, tried to rape woman

He had given her ride home from jail, court papers say

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 

A 40-year-old Portland man is being held on accusations he attempted to rape and choked to unconsciousness a 31-year-old woman in northeast Hazel Dell after giving her a ride home Thursday evening.

Joshua T. McKnight, 40, appeared Friday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree robbery with sexual motive, first-degree attempted rape and second-degree assault.

His arraignment is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Jan. 25.

"This is a stranger assault," Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino told Judge John Nichols. "Allegedly, he strangled the victim to unconsciousness, enough that she urinated. Luckily, she was able to escape and pound on a neighbor's door."

"I don't know her; I just gave her a ride," McKnight blurted out. Nichols advised him to be silent.

The judge set bail at the prosecutor's requested $200,000. Gasperino said McKnight has a violent criminal history, and the fact that the alleged attempted rape happened between strangers presents a community safety concern.

This is what allegedly happened, according to court documents:

McKnight gave the victim a ride home Thursday evening from the Clark County Jail. As thanks, she offered to make him dinner inside her home.

After about 45 minutes of conversation, McKnight allegedly attempted to kiss her. She told deputies she lowered her head, refused and told McKnight that she is married. But he allegedly persisted in his attempt to kiss her. After she repeatedly denied him, his behavior allegedly became more violent, court documents said.

The woman said she was choked to unconsciousness twice but escaped while McKnight allegedly searched for his glasses, court documents said. She had blood, scratches, abrasions and contusions on her face, neck, hands and knees and was partially naked when she arrived at a neighbor's door.

The neighbor called 911 at 8:12 p.m. Thursday to report a black male adult had just attempted to rape the woman and left in a white Jeep-like vehicle, Clark County sheriff's Sgt. Duncan Hoss said. Deputies stopped the suspect vehicle at Alki Road and Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue, where the driver became confrontational with deputies, Hoss said.

"He got out and advanced toward deputies. He wouldn't follow directions," he said.

Deputies used a Taser to subdue the man and took him to the hospital before booking him in the Clark County Jail.

In addition to the accusations of attempted rape and assault, a laptop was missing from the house, accounting for the first-degree robbery allegation, according to the sheriff's department and court documents.

McKnight has faced charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault in 1996 in Tennessee, resisting arrest with violence in 1991 in Florida, possession of stolen property and criminal impersonation in 1991 in New York and obstructing in 2012 in Nevada.

The victim was transported to Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital, where she was interviewed by a deputy. She was not listed as a patient as of noon Friday.

Emily Gillespie contributed to this report.

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