Serial rapist faces another trial, possible life sentence

EVERETT — A serial rapist who stalked and attacked teenage girls in south Snohomish County in the 1980s could be facing a life sentence if he is convicted of assaulting a woman on an Arlington trail in April.

Robert Raethke appeared to be waiting for the 19-year-old April 30 as she was walking her dog on a trail near the Arlington Municipal Airport, court papers said. The woman told police that Raethke stopped her and asked for a hug. He reportedly grabbed her in a bear hug and kissed her neck. She screamed at him to let her go.

She was able to free herself from his grip and yelled that she was calling the police. Raethke, 59, jogged off down the trail.

Community corrections officers later found Raethke’s “walking journal,” detailing his daily trips. Other residents at the group home where he lives told detectives that in the weeks leading up to the incident Raethke missed dinners because he was out walking.

The registered sex offender was outfitted with a GPS monitoring bracelet after failing a polygraph last year. The monitor showed Raethke on the Arlington trail in the days before the April attack. He walked the trail numerous times a day. The GPS report showed him on the trail at the time of the incident, Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Lisa Paul wrote.

Raethke was charged Tuesday with second-degree assault with sexual motivation. He was being held on $1 million bail. If he is convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence under the state’s persistent offender law.

Raethke was sentenced to up to life in prison for raping four teenage girls and attempting to rape another; the crimes happened between 1982 and 1984. He stalked the victims as they walked in wooded areas in Mountlake Terrace and Lynnwood. He often bound and gagged the girls, ages 14 and 15, and threatened to kill them if they screamed or tried to get away.

Raethke called himself the “gentleman rapist,” saying that he was nice to the victims because he sometimes walked them back to the trail from where the abducted them, court papers said. He also said that if he had not been stopped he could have been another Ted Bundy, a serial killer and rapist.

Raethke engaged in treatment while in prison. He admitted that he fantasized about attacking teen girls in wooded areas.

Raethke was eligible for parole under the law at the time of his sentence. At one point, he was considered for civil commitment under the sexually violent predator law but reportedly didn’t meet the criteria, Paul wrote. Raethke was released from prison in 2012 after serving about 28 years behind bars.

He first lived in a sex offender group home in Marysville. He was moved, however, after Marysville police and his community corrections officer received complaints from women working at a nearby espresso stand. The women reported that Raethke was “creeping them out.” They said he was frequently hanging around the stand. He was moved to an Arlington group home. More complaints were made to police and his community corrections officer. Women working in businesses near the home complained that Raethke was making them uneasy. He gave them long notes that made them concerned for their safety.

Raethke was given a polygraph test, which indicated that he was viewing pornography and having fantasies or thoughts about strangers. That’s when the state Department of Corrections outfitted him with a GPS ankle bracelet. He was given a polygraph again March 25. The results were inconclusive. The test giver reported that results may have been affected by Raethke’s stress about upcoming surgery.

Raethke underwent surgery March 31 for prostate cancer. He said he was concerned that he was going to lose his sex drive because of the surgery.

The day after the incident he told his community corrections officer that he had not lost his interest in women, Paul wrote. He didn’t report that attack on the teenager or tell the officer he’d been on the trail.

Raethke reportedly told police that the kissing wasn’t sexual. He later admitted that he was “falling back,” Paul wrote.

Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463, hefley@heraldnet.com

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