LYNDEN - A Lynden man has entered an Alford Plea - maintaining his innocence but admitting that a jury might convict him - after he was charged with drugging and raping a teenage girl at his apartment.
Casey Ronald Cohen, 38, was sentenced this week in Whatcom County Superior Court to a one-year prison term after technically pleading guilty to assaulting, restraining and harassing the 16-year-old girl.
According to her story, Cohen picked her up in early November and drove her to his apartment on South Sixth Street. They stayed there for up to six days; the girl's memory was hazy because she was using methamphetamine. She willingly used the drug with Cohen, according to charging documents.
Eventually, she told police, he gave her a strange orange concoction that she drank, figuring it had more meth in it.
The girl told a detective Cohen attacked her when she tried to leave. He allegedly put a "hard object" to her neck and told her he'd kill her. She couldn't describe the object, Lynden Police Detective Lee Beld said shortly after Cohen's arrest.
The teen didn't feel safe leaving the apartment until Cohen dropped her off at a bus stop days later, according to prosecutors. That's when she went to police, saying Cohen had had intercourse with her at least three times.
"She said that she did not refuse sex at anytime," the charges say, "but she only consented because she was hallucinating."
Rape and kidnapping charges were later dropped in the plea bargain.
"Detective Beld put together a hell of a case," said Whatcom County Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey.
But prosecutors were concerned that the girl's story showed some signs that - from the outset - she had agreed to do drugs and have sex with Cohen. According to charging documents, Cohen admitted to police he had sex with the girl and smoked marijuana with her, but denied committing any other crime.
"The state obviously had a difficult case to prove, because they came down a lot from where they started," said Cohen's public defender, Darrin Hall.
In his guilty plea paperwork Cohen reasserted his innocence but said he was "entering this plea to take advantage of the benefit of the bargain. I agree the state may be able to prove this case beyond a reasonable doubt."
He was convicted of assault in the second degree, felony harassment and unlawful imprisonment.
The only other mark on Cohen's criminal record was a drug crime from 1997.