BELLINGHAM - A teenage boy was sentenced Thursday, Jan. 17, to a minimum of seven years and eight months in prison for trying to rape a Bellingham barista in August.
Daniel Joseph Bernard, 17, a former junior at Options High School, faces life behind bars if he doesn't make parole.
The Bellingham Herald publishes names of juveniles charged in court as adults.
Court records show Bernard went to a Cruisin Coffee, 1078 Lakeway Drive, at 4:20 a.m. Aug. 25, just before the stand opened. A 25-year-old barista opened the door to tell Bernard he might have to wait a few minutes, because she was still setting up.
"No, that's OK," Bernard said, as he reached over the closed bottom of a Dutch door, unlatched it from the inside and forced his way in. He pushed the barista to the back of the room. Terrified, she offered him money or anything he wanted. Bernard shut the door behind him.
"No," he said. "I just want you."
Bernard tore her clothes. He covered her mouth and nose when she screamed. He tried to have sex with her, but she repelled him. Eight minutes later, he zipped up his pants and walked toward Carl Cozier Elementary School.
The woman locked herself in the business and called 911. Detectives recovered security footage from the coffee stand and released images of the attacker to local media. Several people called police saying they believed it was Bernard.
He admitted to the crime when police caught up with him on Sept. 4. Bernard later told a corrections officer that, in the hours before the crime, he was angry and bitter about his life: He couldn't be happy without drugs and alcohol, and he hadn't seen in his father in eight years, among other personal problems.
He went to a park and smoked marijuana through the night. In the morning he planned to beat up the next person he saw. Then he ran across the street and "found himself in the coffee shop" about to rape the woman.
Later, Bernard said if he were allowed to talk with her again, he would "beg for her forgiveness."
Bernard - who has grown a full beard since his wanted photo was disseminated in local media in August - choked up at his Thursday court hearing before Judge Ira Uhrig.
"I want to say I'm sorry," he said.
The victim sat in the back of the courtroom beside her mother but chose not to speak during the sentencing hearing. Instead she wrote a letter to the court, recounting the horror of that day. Defense attorney Darrin Hall delivered the letter to Bernard just before his sentencing.
After reading through it, Hall told the court, Bernard broke down and said, "I can't believe I inflicted that kind of pain on someone else."