Pasco man who drugged, violently raped woman gets 12.5 years to life in prison

James Bernard

PASCO, Wash. — A Pasco man was sentenced Friday to 12.5 years to life in prison for drugging a diabetic woman by giving her too much insulin, then violently raping her to the point of extreme blood loss.

A Franklin County jury found James Edward Bernhard guilty in January on charges of second-degree rape and second-degree assault with sexual motivation. The defendant was also charged with first-degree assault, but that charge resulted in a hung jury.

Court documents say the case started when 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.