Man faces rape, choking charges

A 27-year-old Oak Harbor man is accused of brutally raping and strangling a woman in August, according to a report by an Oak Harbor Police detective.

Prosecutors charged Joseph Blue in Island County Superior Court Aug. 22 with first-degree rape and assault in the second-degree by strangulation and with sexual motivation. He pleaded not guilty Sept. 4.

Detective Teri Gardner wrote in her report that Blue assaulted the 29-year-old victim in her apartment for about 13 hours, strangled her until she passed out and repeatedly raped her.

The victim complained of severe throat trauma. Gardner wrote that she documented the woman’s injuries, including “what appeared to be petechial hemorrhaging in both eyes,” redness and scratches on her neck, a swollen and purple eye, bruises and four bite marks on her body.

A report by Officer Mike Clements states that Blue said the woman was intoxicated, that they had just broken up and that he had bitten her as part of their normal sexual activity. He denied any form of physical altercation.

Blue’s right arm was bandaged from a compound fracture that could not be put in a cast, Clements wrote.

The assault by strangulation charge against Blue is a new law that increases the penalty in strangulation cases by specifying that it is a felony. Strangulation is the third most common method used by domestic violence homicide perpetrators in the state, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

If convicted, Blue could face up to 11 years and four months in prison under the standard sentencing range.

Blue’s attorney, Jon Ostlund of Anacortes, had no comment on the case except to point out that his client pleaded not guilty.

You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at jstensland@whidbeynews or call 675-6611.

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