GUILTY: Pasco man drugged and violently raped woman, jury says
James Edward Bernhard faces 12-15 years in prison
PASCO, Wash. – A Pasco man was convicted Wednesday of rape and assault for knocking out a diabetic woman by giving her too much insulin, then violently raping her to the point of extreme blood loss.
A jury in Franklin County Superior Court found James Edward Bernhard, 41, guilty of second-degree rape and second-degree assault, both class-a felonies. In addition, the jury returned special allegations: domestic violence for both counts and sexual motivation for the assault.
Berhhard’s trial had started Monday, Jan. 6. He was facing first-degree assault. However, the jury was unable to reach a verdict on that count, leading to a mistrial on that count only.
The jury deliberated for 20 hours, according to Chief Criminal Prosecuting Attorney David Corkrum, and the state could retry Bernhard on the first-degree assault count.
Bernhard faces 12-15 years in prison. Four of that would be served without good time due to the sexual motivation enhancement.
“I’m extremely thankful to the Pasco Police Department, Pasco Fire Department, doctors and nurses at Kadlec Medica Center for their work in a very challenging and complex case,” said Maureen Astley, Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney with the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.
Astley said the first trial of this case ended up being a mistrial.
According to a probable cause affidavit, the case began after the Pasco Police Department responded to Kadlec Regional Medical Center on April 12, 2016, one day after a woman was admitted to the hospital with severe injuries to her genitals.
Police said the injuries resulted in the woman losing “about half the blood in her body.”
The woman told investigators she believed Bernhard intentionally gave her too much insulin while she was sleeping, which caused her to fall into a “coma-like state,” the affidavit says. Then, she was raped with an object that caused severe lacerations to her vagina.
Bernhard called police on April 11, 2016 to report that the victim had a seizure while she was in the shower. When questioned about the blood coming from her vagina, he said the woman was on her menstrual cycle.
Police said at Kadlec, the woman was immediately rushed into surgery because doctors couldn’t stop the bleeding. The doctor who completed her surgery said the lacerations resembled injuries that are common in childbirth.
The woman told police she was fearful of Bernhard and asked for protection from him.
A couple days later, Bernhard agreed to an interview at the Pasco Police Department, during which he admitted to giving the woman 10 units of insulin while she slept and cleaning up the blood from the victim’s bed. At first, he said it was an accident.
He later stated that he could have committed the gruesome assault while he was backed out from drinking too much, but he could not remember.
It’s not known yet when he’ll be sentenced.