A jury heard closing arguments this week in the trial of a Bellingham bistro co-owner accused of sexual assaults on four women.
Prosecutors argued for about 45 minutes Monday afternoon that Jamison Scott Rogayan, 32, took advantage of women who were drunk, high, or both when he took them to his apartment in downtown Bellingham for sex.
One of the women said Rogayan assaulted her for hours in his apartment in 2011. On the witness stand Rogayan denied it happened.
“She has no motive to make this up,” Chief Criminal Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey said.
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Defense attorney Alexander Ransom countered with a 1½-hour speech asking jurors: “Was what happened with Mr. Rogayan rape? Or was it regret?”
“The prosecutor will lead you to believe this is a case about rape,” Ransom said. “This case is a lot deeper than that. This case is about witness collusion.”
Ransom pointed to a secret Facebook page called Bellingham SOSA, where the women discussed their encounters in September 2015 before coming forward to police. The women said the group was a safe space to get support from others: Hearing they weren’t alone is what compelled them to come forward.
Both sides went over each case one-by-one. Ransom noted that one woman continued to hang out with Rogayan in the months after the alleged assault.
“She wrote that incident off with Mr. Rogayan – whatever it was – she wrote that off as regret, not rape, and she put it behind her,” he said. “It wasn’t until she got exposed to Bellingham SOSA, read through it, got exposed to the dialogue, the rhetoric, the narrative, that she changed her mind.”
Ransom’s argument touched on Stockholm syndrome, national politics, and ISIS, as he compared the women to misguided radical Islamist terrorists who believe they’re being heroes. Rogayan, in a navy blue suit, held a stoic expression as he listened with his back straight and his hands folded.
A total of 10 women have accused Rogayan of sexual assaults. One case was dismissed after the jury heard her testify at trial, because Judge Charles Snyder found no evidence to suggest she did not consent.
The statute of limitations had expired in four cases, and another alleged victim did not want to press charges.
So Rogayan remains charged with three counts of second-degree rape, one count of indecent liberties, and one count of unlawful imprisonment.
On Monday one juror, a woman, couldn’t drive to court through a snowstorm. So a court clerk spun a wooden raffle drum and picked out a male alternate.
Richey gave a rebuttal argument Tuesday.
“According to Mr. Ransom,” he said, “all of the (women) are wrong, and the defendant is right.”
The case was given to the jury of six women and six men around 10 a.m. Tuesday.
See more trial coverage here …