Defense gives opening statement in babysitter rape trial
A teenage girl and her stepmother have lodged false claims of rape against a Bellingham businessman because they don’t like him, the attorney representing the man told a jury during his opening statement Monday.
Further, the attorney, David Allen, urged the jury to pay close attention to dates, citing the girl changed the timeline of events several times during the investigation.
Tyler Eugene Ryan, 37, who is accused of raping a teenage babysitter in 2015, is facing charges of one count each of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion, third-degree rape of a child and intimidating a witness.
When Ryan was originally charged in late July, he was an executive director of financial services at Multop Financial.
His trial, which is being heard by a predominantly female jury – eight women and four men – in Whatcom County Superior Court, is expected to last several weeks. Ryan is expected to take the stand in the coming days.
Allen said the teenager told several different stories of how she had been raped – first by a homeless man, then by a Squalicum High School student – to friends and family before disclosing it was Ryan who allegedly assaulted her.
It was after the girl told her parents that Allen said the girl’s stepmother played a game with her, telling the girl she knew she was raped by an adult.
Allen told the jury the stepmother gave the teenager a list of names and instructed her to nod when she said the name of the culprit.
The girl nodded when Ryan’s name was mentioned, but Allen said she did so because she knew her stepmother and Ryan didn’t get along.
Allen also called into question the girl’s timeline of events –she first reported the supposed rape taking place in fall 2015, when she was 13, but is now saying it took place in spring 2016, when she was 14.
Allen told the jury they would learn through witnesses, including an OB/GYN, the girl’s parents, and Ryan’s wife that the teenager’s story could not have happened. Testimony would show, Allen said, that while the Ryan family and the girl’s family were friends, there were issues between Ryan and the girl’s stepmother.
“At the end of this case you’ll not only be convinced that there are many substantial reasonable doubts, but that Tyler Ryan is the real victim and is innocent of all these very serious charges,” Allen said.
Prior to Allen’s talk, Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting attorney Eric Richey addressed the jury, saying they would hear the teenager tell how she was babysitting Ryan’s daughters, ages 1 and 3 at the time, and he came home early, without his wife. The two had a conversation that started normal, but then turned personal and eventually ended with Ryan pinning her down and raping her, Richey said. Ryan then drove the girl home, but told her not to tell anyone or she’d regret it, Richey told the jury.
Richey said the girl held off identifying Ryan as the person who allegedly raped her, because of her father’s close friendship with him.
The girl was expected to testify.
The jury also will hear testimony from other witnesses for the prosecution, including a forensic interviewer from Brigid Collins, a pediatric Harborview physician, the girl’s therapist, and a local expert in adolescent sexual abuse – they’ll testify to the disclosure process for child sex victims, injuries suffered from sexual assault and the teenager’s life at the time, Richey said.
“At the end of the case (we) ask that you find the defendant guilty of three charges. First charge is rape in the second degree and that’s for using force, for overcoming resistance, the second charge is rape of child in the third degree, because it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a minor and the third charge is intimidating a witness for warning (the girl) not tell or she will regret it,” Richey said.
Ryan’s wife filed for divorce a month after charges were filed against him, but Allen said the divorce proceedings had nothing to with the case. The prosecution did not bring up the divorce during opening statements.