Stephenson gets 60 years for ‘fiendish’ and ‘satanic’ acts
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
June 21, 2012 · Updated 11:34 AM
The man responsible for what a judge characterized as “some of the most fiendish acts in the history of this county or anywhere” may never be free again.
During a hearing Friday, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock handed 27-year-old Ryan Stephenson of Oak Harbor an indeterminate sentence of 60 years to life in prison, which was years beyond what either the prosecutor or a Department of Corrections officer recommended.
“He subjected this little person to some of the most heinous, savage and satanic acts of rape and assault that anyone has ever experienced,” Hancock said, emphasizing “satanic.”
Emotions were raw in the courtroom. The deputy prosecutor, a corrections officer, a detective, the victim’s aunt and even the judge choked up while speaking about the case.
The defense attorney and a Department of Corrections report, on the other hand, offered some sad insight into a man capable of such monstrous acts.
Stephenson was convicted of rape in the first degree and assault of a child in the first degree during a haunting and disturbing trial last month.
Stephenson raped his girlfriend’s 21-month-old child last year and caused such horrific injuries that she had to undergo emergency surgery and could have died from blood loss. After the rape, he stuffed the child in a backpack and repeatedly kicked her “soccer style.”
Stephenson, who refers to himself as “Lord Sparta the Dark Lord,” admitted to a detective that he had previously raped the child repeatedly with objects.
Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme spoke about how the terrible facts of the crime affected everyone involved in the case, from a legal assistant who had to handle enlarged photos of the girl’s injuries to the jurors who were offered counseling after the trial.
Several of the physicians at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle who helped repair the extreme injuries to the little girl were so upset that they sought therapy.
Of course, Ohme said, the toddler suffered most of all. He focused on the tiny girl’s helplessness in the face of such violence. He recommended an exceptional sentence of 50 years because of the little girl’s vulnerability and Stephenson’s position of trust.
“When the defendant raped her, she could not call out for help,” he said, his voice breaking. “When he abused her, she couldn’t tell her mother.”
Helen Desmond, a community corrections officer, struggled not to weep as she discussed the case. She said it was rare for her to make a statement at a sentencing hearing. She said she personally feels that Stephenson should spend the rest of his life in prison, but tried to be objective by recommending an exceptional sentence of 45.5 years.
“It is by the sheer grace of God that this child is still alive,” she said.
Desmond said Stephenson had previously been investigated by Child Protective Services for abusing his son and shouldn’t have been allowed around children again.
Detective Tony Slowik said it was the most difficult case he’s ever dealt with.
He said Stephenson never showed any remorse. During the trial, Slowik testified that Stephenson giggled when describing the earlier rapes.
“There is not a day goes by that I don’t think of (the girl). She has a purpose in life,” Slowik said. The News-Times is not naming the girl in order to protect her privacy.
The victim’s aunt said the little girl is doing well, but continues to suffer emotionally.
The girl and her brother are living with their aunt and uncle after CPS took them away from their mother.
The crimes occurred while the mother was away at appointments.
The aunt said the girl barely trusts anyone and is especially fearful of men.
She panics in small spaces and is afraid of taking baths. She broke down when she saw a man similar in appearance to Stephenson, whom the child calls “the bad man.” Fortunately, she has a close relationship with a protective older brother.
“She’s a very resilient little girl,” her aunt said. “She still has a long way to go.”
Stephenson’s court-appointed attorney, Peter Simpson of Coupeville, asked for mercy for his client and pointed out that the recommended sentence was beyond what a murderer would face.
“He is not beyond redemption,” he said. “He is not beyond remorse.”
Simpson explained that Stephenson grew up as the son of a Baptist minister in Texas. The family moved to Bremerton when he was 16 and his father was a pastor at a church there.
Stephenson and his sister were home-schooled, which Simpson theorized contributed to Stephenson’s sense of isolation and lack of social skills.
Simpson also pointed out that Stephenson had previously been diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder. Specifically, he was diagnosed in 2009 with “a delusional disorder and an antisocial personality disorder with a malignant psychopathology schizotypal personality disorder,” according to the pre-sentence investigation written by Desmond.
Stephenson created a complex fantasy world in his mind in which he is a “dark lord,” the report indicates.
Prior to the trial, he sent a letter to the judge, asking to be released from jail temporarily because he believes the world is ending at the end of the year.
In court, Simpson read a statement written by Stephenson. In it, Stephenson apologized to the little girl he abused and to her family, but acknowledged that the words carry little weight coming from him. He wrote that he finally realizes what kind of a person he is, but he hopes to change.
“I hope and pray I will become a person who genuinely loves others,” he said.
Just before sentencing, Stephenson spoke briefly and extended his “deepest apologies” to the victim’s family.
He showed little emotion during the hearing.
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.