Trial underway for Pasco man who allegedly drugged, violently raped woman

2 more armed robberies hit Yakima within 20 minutes

WARNING: This article contains disturbing information. 

PASCO, Wash. – A trial is underway for a Pasco man accused of knocking out a diabetic woman by giving her too much insulin, then violently raping her to the point of extreme blood loss.

James Edward Bernhard, 41, is charged with first-degree rape and first-degree assault in Franklin County Superior Court. His trial started Monday, Jan. 6.

According to a probable cause affidavit, 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 child birth.

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.

Since his trial began, jury selection was completed and on Thursday, the first witness testimonies took place. The trial is expected to last about another two weeks, according to the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office.

Rape and assault in the first degree are both class A felonies, which can be punishable by a maximum sentence of life in prison.