Authorities Monday still had not located a former Coeur d’Alene man who wasn’t in court Friday when a jury found him guilty of three rape charges.
George P. Anton, 68, left for the Spokane airport Friday before the jury decided his fate. He promised to be back for the verdict but never returned.
Until Anton is located, authorities fear for the safety of the victim and other witnesses who testified against him.
“He told her he’d kill her if she ever told,” said the husband of the rape victim.
Anton was convicted after a weeklong trial. He could face up to life in prison.
He waived his right to be present at closing arguments Friday morning. He told Judge Gary Haman he had to drive two of his character witnesses to Spokane International Airport.
The five-man, seven-woman jury began deliberating at noon and reached the verdict in less than two hours. When another hour passed without Anton’s return, Haman ordered jurors to return to the courtroom and render the verdict in the defendant’s absence.
“He’s chosen to abscond,” Haman told the jury. “I know not what Mr. Anton is up to, but I do know this: He always seems to have a plan.”
Haman issued a bench warrant for Anton’s arrest.
Anton was convicted of raping a teenage girl repeatedly between December 1991 and August 1992, when she was 16 and 17 years old.
Among the prosecution witnesses was Anton’s 22-year-old son, Michael.
“I’m happy someone has finally seen what he’s capable of,” he said after the verdict was read. “He’s always beat the system.”
The elder Anton has been investigated for previous child sexual abuse allegations in Boise and McCall, but never was convicted before Friday.
Michael Anton said he has suspected his father of inappropriate behavior, but was shocked by the extent of the abuse the victim revealed during the trial.
“We finally got justice, but it doesn’t do any good if you don’t have anyone there to give it to,” the victim said Friday. “I have no idea why they let him leave. It’s outrageous that they would even do that.”
She said Anton threatened to kill her if she told anyone of the sexual abuse, but she came forward with the charges after becoming suspicious Anton was trying to start a sexual relationship with an adolescent at his current residence in Texas.
But Judge Haman said there was little he could do to prevent Anton from going to the Spokane airport.
“This guy was not in custody,” the judge said Monday. “He had been released on his own recognizance. He hadn’t been convicted of anything yet.” “We don’t know what’s going to happen, we’re just waiting it out,” he said.