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Dec. 13, 2019

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Days after arrest, Vancouver man exonerated in 2010 rape case

By , Columbian breaking news reporter
Published: September 9, 2019, 6:00am

A suspect in a 9-year-old rape case was exonerated, pending further investigation, days after DNA analysis of a sexual assault kit led to an arrest.

Tewodros K. Gebremeskel, 44, of Vancouver appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of second-degree rape. On Friday, prosecutors filed a motion to exonerate, citing the need for further investigation, according to court records.

State law defines exoneration as the discharging of the bail bond by the court.

Gebremeskel’s $100,000 bail was discharged, according to court records. His name still appeared Sunday on the Clark County Jail roster in connection with a drug case.

Vancouver police responded to a report of a woman screaming at 1:08 a.m. Sept. 2, 2010 near Wintler Drive and Wahclellah Street in Vancouver’s Meadow Homes neighborhood, according to an affidavit of probable cause. The woman was found lying on her stomach on the sidewalk with her pants inside-out and wearing socks but no shoes.

The woman, now 49, reported she was walking when she noticed a white minivan, according to the affidavit. She said she got into the van and traveled a short distance to Meadow Homes Park, where the man led her to some shrubbery and sexually assaulted her, the affidavit said.

The affidavit later said that during a sexual assault exam at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center, the woman indicated to a nurse that the van was following her. She reported that she cut through the park before the man caught up and sexually assaulted her, the affidavit said.

“No contact with the 911 caller was made by the patrol officer and the case was subsequently suspended,” the affidavit reads.

Contents of the sexual assault exam were analyzed in May 2018 by Utah-based Sorenson Forensics, according to the affidavit. After a male DNA profile was developed, it was sent to the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory and compared with profiles in the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System.

In March, the analysis produced a match with Gebremeskel, according to the affidavit. Two months later, the woman selected a 2010 photo of Gebremeskel from a photo montage containing five other people, the affidavit said.

Jack Heffernan: 360-735-4541; jack.heffernan@columbian.com; Twitter: twitter.com/JackTHeffernan

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