Following two days of deliberation and a weeks-long trial, a jury acquitted a Bellingham businessman accused of raping a teenage babysitter in 2015.
Tyler Eugene Ryan, 37, was found not guilty Friday afternoon of one count each of second-degree rape by forcible compulsion, third-degree rape of a child and intimidating a witness.
“I want to thank the jury for deliberating and coming to the verdict they did. I want to thank everybody that supported me and believed in me. It was a hard, terrible thing to deal with and justice was served,” Ryan said Friday afternoon.
Ryan said he planned to go home and hug his children, and “after that, I want to pick the pieces of my life back up and put them together.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
He noted it was important for the public to keep an open mind when accusations are made against people, as sometimes the full story can’t be told right away.
“There’s a lot of evidence and things we had that we couldn’t disclose, and so it’s important that people in our community do keep an open mind in these situations and not judge because as today showed, innocent people are and can still be accused,” he said.
Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecuting attorney Eric Richey said prosecutors knew when they charged the case it was going to be difficult.
“The evidence needed to come in well to get a good verdict, and it didn’t,” Richey said. “We’re disappointed, but we trust the jury process and respect the decision.”
When Ryan was originally charged in late July, he was an executive director of financial services at Multop Financial.
In late July, a girl, then 13 years old, alleged she was raped by Ryan while babysitting for him and his wife in November 2015, according to court records.
The girl told police Ryan made unwanted advances after he came home. She said she froze, tried to scream, but Ryan overpowered her, covered her mouth and raped her, according to court records.
The girl claimed Ryan told her she would regret it if she told anyone, according to court records.
During closing arguments, Deputy prosecuting attorney Erik Sigmar said it came down to whether the jury believed the testimony of the teenage girl, who was the first to take the stand.
Sigmar drew on the expert witnesses’ testimonies, who said the girl’s multiple attempts at disclosure and inconsistent timeline were consistent with sexual abuse of teenagers and the reasons surrounding why rape victims don’t come forward.
He also noted the demeanor of the girl and her father when they testified — who were both visibly upset — and urged the jury to take that into account.
“The defendant in this case had the power and the ability to take what he wanted, and he did so. Rape happens in private, it happens in the shadows between two people. And (the girl) brought the crime out to the light and exposed the defendant,” Sigmar told the jury. “If you find (the girl) to be a credible witness, if you find she told you the truth beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must find the defendant guilty as charged.”
David Allen, Ryan’s attorney, brought out two whiteboards during closing that depicted what he called as the girl’s “admitted lies,” and focused on her timeline, which changed multiple times throughout the investigation.
Allen said her disclosures to her friends weren’t “testing the waters” to see who would support her, as the state’s expert witnesses said. He likened the girl’s event to Sept. 11, and said if the rape did happen, she would have remembered the dates more concretely.
“We all remember Sept. 11, we don’t remember Sept. 10. ... How can you not have a day, this would be your Sept. 11. It would be a landmark date, and the only reason why you wouldn’t remember the day is if you’re creating this, which I suggest to you that there is no other explanation except that she is creating this,” Allen told the jury. “We’ve shown that (the girl) has woven a river of lies and a web of deceit. This has been a nightmare for Tyler. You, the jury, have it within your power to end this nightmare by acquitting him. Not only because the state hasn’t met their burden of proof, but also because we’ve shown he’s innocent of these charges.”