News

Convicted rapist gets life sentence from Island County judge

Convicted rapist Bryan Ross consults with an attorney during his sentencing hearing.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Convicted rapist Bryan Ross consults with an attorney during his sentencing hearing.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock pointed his finger at convicted rapist Bryan Ross and called him a “vicious predator” just before giving him the maximum sentence possible.

The sentencing hearing Thursday morning marked the culmination of an exhaustive investigation into the 50-year-old Camano Island man who was called a “serial rapist” by a prosecuting attorney.

“Mr. Ross is a predator,” Chief Criminal Prosecutor Colleen Kenimond said in the courtroom. “He hangs out at the grocery store and finds his victims ... then he gets them to his house and forcibly rapes them.”

A jury found Ross guilty of second-degree assault after a five-day trial in March. Both Kenimond and the Department of Corrections recommended that Ross receive the maximum sentence. Hancock agreed and sentenced him to life in prison with the possibility of parole after a minimum of eight and a half years.

“To take someone’s dignity away in the way that you did is a deeply offensive crime,” he said.

The victim, a 54-year-old disabled woman, spoke at the emotional hearing about how the violent crime has turned her into someone who is frightened to go out and suffers from nightmares. She described how she feared for her life during the attack.

“I refuse, I flat refuse, to allow this to happen to another person if I can help it,” she said.

Ross spoke briefly during the hearing. He didn’t apologize to the woman he was convicted of raping, but oddly, said he was sorry about the way one of the other women he was accused of assaulting feels.

“I want to be a better person,” he said. “I want to find myself inside of me. I want help.”

Hancock commended the two investigators on the case, Detective Laura Price and Detective Sgt. Mike Beech, for their work.

“It’s comforting to know there are professionals like you at the Island County Sheriff’s Office,” the judge said.

In an interview before the hearing, Price described the crime and how she uncovered a trail of alleged victims. She tracked down at least four other people who accused Ross of sexual assault, though only one testified at trial.

Price said the victim, along with nearly all of his alleged victims and ex-girlfriends, told startlingly similar stories of how they met him. His modus operandi was to confront the woman in grocery store parking lots in the Stanwood area and then aggressively pursue them. He falsely claimed he had been a police officer or a Navy SEAL. Many of the woman consented to having sex, but if they didn’t, Ross would force them, Price indicated.

“He was very sexually aggressive and a control freak,” she said.

In fact, one of Ross’s ex-girlfriends spoke at the sentencing hearing and described how she had tracked down all the women he was having sexual relations with through his cell phone and pager records. She said he was cheating on her with 50 different women. She also descried how he raped her.

Price said she first realized she was dealing with a true predator when she contacted one of Ross’ ex-wives. The woman said she thought she was his second wife, but later discovered she was wife No. 5. In all, he’s had six wives and five children. A month after he was arrested for rape, he married a woman he met over the Internet, the detective said.

Ross met the most recent victim at a parking lot. On Easter Sunday of 2009, the woman, a widow, contacted Ross at his home and he invited her over. She brought her daughter and son-in-law to his house because she was nervous, but the younger people eventually left. Ross picked the woman up and brought her to the bedroom, bashing her hip on the door frame on the way. He quickly removed her clothes and violently raped her, causing a tear.

The woman faked a seizure and started to babble to save herself. Ross refused to call 911, but called her daughter to pick her up. The victim and her family went immediately to the police.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Jul 26 edition online now. Browse the archives.