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News / Clark County News

Vancouver man gets more than 7 years in prison for exploiting teenage girls

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: August 29, 2022, 6:32pm

A Vancouver man was sentenced to 7½ years in prison Monday for sexually exploiting about a dozen teen girls, including paying some for sex.

Julius A. Owolabi, 56, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to two counts of third-degree rape of a child, one count of first-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct and one gross misdemeanor of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He was originally facing 24 sex abuse charges.

Judge David Gregerson said the crimes against multiple victims were “very disturbing, very alarming in terms of community safety.”

“For anyone who’s been a parent, it’s one of those cases that makes it difficult to sleep at night,” Gregerson said.

The judge ordered the exceptionally high sentence of 90 months, which was above the agreed-upon sentencing recommendation of 72 months.

Owolabi’s defense attorney, Josephine Townsend, told him her office would help him file an appeal.

The mothers of two of the victims in the case spoke during the sentencing hearing about the impacts Owolabi had on their daughters. One of the women said that after two years since Owolabi was arrested, her family is just regaining some semblance of normalcy.

Owolabi apologized to the people he affected, and Townsend said her client has accepted responsibility for his actions.

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He was originally charged in August of 2020 with the rape and commercial sex abuse of two teen victims. Later, investigators found about a dozen additional victims, court records show.

Vancouver police received information in August about Owolabi displaying “grooming” behaviors with girls between the ages of 14 and 17, by providing them with marijuana, alcohol, vaping supplies and cash. In return, Owolabi demanded the girls send him inappropriate photos and videos via Snapchat, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

Detectives began watching Owolabi’s residence and followed him around town. He was followed Aug. 13 to an apartment complex on Northeast 112th Avenue, where he picked up two girls ages 14 and 15. He drove off, nearly causing a crash in the 1500 block of 136th Avenue, at which point police stopped the vehicle, the affidavit says.

One of the girls told police she was introduced to Owolabi three or four months prior by a friend. She estimated that he gave her and the other girl marijuana at least 20 times, along with other items, the court document states.

Both girls said Owolabi earlier in August arranged to pick them up and take them to his residence. They smoked marijuana together, and he paid both for sex. The teens said Owolabi had the same plan for that day, according to the affidavit.

Following his arrest, investigators obtained search warrants for his vehicle, residence, computers and cellphone, and identified more than 20 additional female victims. Most were cooperative with investigators, according to a newly filed probable cause affidavit.

“During this investigation, Julius Owolabi exhibited the same pattern of behavior with all the young females he met/or was introduced to,” the affidavit reads.

Owolabi would provide the girls with marijuana, alcohol, vaping supplies, food, cash, cellphones and clothing in exchange for nude photos. Several of the girls sent stock photos from the internet, but some did provide their own photos, according to the affidavit.

He then would become more aggressive and ask for sexual favors; sometimes he would pay extra for them or threaten to stop giving the girls things, the affidavit says.

The court had previously granted five-year sexual assault protection orders against Owolabi for 13 victims, which remain in effect, prosecutors said Monday.