Charges added in toddler case

Ryan Stephenson, of Oak Harbor, appears in Island County Superior Court Friday for a hearing on several motions. - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Ryan Stephenson, of Oak Harbor, appears in Island County Superior Court Friday for a hearing on several motions.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

An Oak Harbor man accused of raping a toddler and causing traumatic injuries is now facing more serious charges based upon his confession that he zipped the little girl into a backpack and repeatedly kicked her “soccer style,” court documents indicate.

A separate document filed earlier this month alleges that 26-year-old Ryan Stephenson, who calls himself “Lord Sparta,” also admitted to sexually assaulting the child on two prior occasions.

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock authorized the prosecutor’s office to file the third amended information against Stephenson last Friday.

At a trial scheduled for Feb. 14, Stephenson will now face charges of first-degree rape with aggravating circumstance and a special allegation and first-degree assault of a child with aggravating circumstances. The amendment changes an attempted assault charge to the more-serious first-degree assault of a child.

For the rape charge, the alleged aggravating circumstance is that the victim was particularly vulnerable or incapable of resistance. The special allegation is that the victim was under the age of 15.

The amendment dramatically increases the potential sentence Stephenson would face if convicted of the charges. He would face an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison, with a minimum term that could be well over 30 years.

Stephenson is accused of raping his girlfriend’s 21-month-old daughter while he was babysitting the girl and a 5-year-old boy last May, according to the police report. The girl was injured so severely in the assault that she underwent reconstructive surgery at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

Stephenson denied raping the child, but suggested that the injuries may have occurred when he beat her on the bottom and vaginal area.

The newly amended charges are based on a second report written by Detective Tony Slowik with the Oak Harbor Police Department. A few days after the alleged rape, Slowik and another detective interviewed Stephenson in the Island County Jail, where he’s being held on $100,000 bail.

Stephenson admitted that he had zipped the toddler in a backpack, swung it violently in the air and kicked it several times, Slowik’s report states. Stephenson described the kicks as “soccer style” and admitted they were “pretty hard,” the detective wrote.

Slowik recovered the backpack and found blood stains inside, his report indicates. Photos of the girl taken at Harborview showed extensive bruising on her face, torso, bottom and legs.

Stephenson also admitted to Slowik that he had previously sexually assaulted the toddler using a toothbrush and a toothbrush holder, according to the detective’s report. Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme filed a motion to admit evidence of the prior sexual assaults.

Ohme is also asking the judge to allow evidence that Stephenson had previously harassed the child’s father. The motion alleges that Stephenson was jealous of the victim’s father and resented that his girlfriend had a child from a prior relationship with the man, court documents state. Stephenson admitted that he was thinking about the man while he was kicking the child, the motion alleges.

In fact, Stephenson was convicted of threatening to kill the man three years ago. Stephenson sent the man bizarre letters and emails in which he claimed he was “Lord Sparta” and he was going to bring about the end of the world.

More recently, Stephenson sent a letter to the judge last November asking that his bail be reduced so he could spend the holidays with his family.

“I strongly believe that at the end of 2012 the world will be destroyed by God all mighty and that all life on earth will die,” he wrote. “Before you say no please sit back and think. If you knew you had one year to live --- how would you choose to live it?”

The court administrator sent him a letter explaining that the judge can’t respond.


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