Trial gets underway for sex offender

Man accused of holding woman at knifepoint, then assaulting her

By Andy Matarrese, Columbian Breaking News Reporter

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The trial for a Vancouver sex offender accused of rape started Monday, with the defense opting to hold off in making its opening statements.

Jeremiah A. Teas, 40, is accused of first-degree rape for allegedly holding a woman he contacted through an online ad at knifepoint, then assaulting her.

Senior Deputy Prosecutor Kasey Vu, in his opening statement, charted the state’s case to the jury.

“It is about what he decided to do to take advantage of the victim in the case,” Vu said.

Teas’ attorney, Gregg Schile, opted to save his opening statement until after the state completes making its case.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested Teas in October 2016. Vu described the victim as a single mother who, strapped for cash and desperate, posted an ad on Backpage.com to offer massage services.

Teas answered, and they arranged to meet at her apartment.

She brought him to her bedroom, where she closed the door. When she went to set something down on a nightstand, Teas attacked her, held a knife to her throat and announced his intention to rape her, Vu said.

During the ordeal, the woman was able to slip away, Vu said, and ran screaming to her roommate, who was half-asleep in another room at the apartment.

They locked themselves inside, and Teas left. He left his knife and a Seahawks cap behind, Vu said.

The two women contacted police, and the victim underwent a sexual assault evaluation at a hospital. Deputies arrested Teas days later.

Investigators found DNA matching Teas’ through the examination, and on the knife and on blood smears in the apartment, because Teas had cut himself.

The two women also both identified Teas out of a lineup of random photographs.

Vu said investigators were also able to match Teas’ movements through the victim’s cellphone logs and surveillance footage from the bus he took to the victim’s home.

“Clearly, without a doubt, the defendant was at the apartment that day,” Vu said.

Teas is classified as a Level 2 sex offender, which generally means there’s a moderate risk he will re-offend. He has a 1997 conviction for third-degree assault with sexual motivation and a 1998 conviction for first-degree child molestation, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ database.

Because of his criminal history, Teas could face a life sentence should the jury find him guilty.

The trial continues Tuesday.