Man sentenced for sexual assaulting woman last May

The 44-year-old Oak Harbor man was sentenced to 20 months in prison.

A man who sexually assaulted a sleeping woman at a Coupeville home last May was sentenced to prison last week.

Marquette D. Cunningham, 44, of Oak Harbor pleaded guilty earlier this year to assault in the third degree with sexual motivation.

Thursday, Island County Superior Court Judge Carolyn Cliff sentenced him to 20 months in prison, which was the joint sentence recommendation from the prosecution and defense.

In a victim impact statement, the woman wrote that she doesn’t feel comfortable in her home anymore and that after the assault she couldn’t take long showers because the sight of her bruises gave her “panicked fits.”

“I wore long-sleeve shirts and long pants,” she wrote, “so that I wouldn’t catch a glimpse of one and be incapacitated by what is now a recurring nightmare.”

In court, Cunningham apologized during the hearing, although not to the victim specifically, and said he takes responsibility for his actions.

“I deeply regret it with all the empathy I possess in my body,” he said.

Cunningham was originally charged with rape in the second degree, a much more serious charge, but pleaded to the lesser charge as part of a plea bargain.

Defense Attorney Matt Montoya indicated that one of the reasons for the plea bargain was inconsistencies in the three interviews the victim and her boyfriend had with law enforcement, the prosecution and the defense.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michael Safstrom said the victim was “severely affected” by the trauma. He said she was confused and terrified during the attack and did her best to recall the details.

The victim reported that she and her boyfriend had Cunningham over for a get-together on the night of May 21. She fell asleep on a recliner and woke up to find him raping her; she eventually was able to push him off while screaming, the police report states.

In an interview with law enforcement, Cunningham blamed the woman for “setting him up” by falling asleep in a recliner instead of going to bed with her boyfriend, court documents indicate. He originally claimed the sex was consensual.

The pre-sentence investigation report states that Cunningham has a lengthy criminal history in San Diego, including sex trafficking and domestic violence.

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