May 18, 2005 in City

Man seeks $1 million from Spokane after charges he raped twins dropped

By The Spokesman-Review
 

The man accused in March of raping two adult sisters while impersonating a police officer has filed a $1 million claim against the city of Spokane.

All charges against Preston Tensley were dropped April 1 after the women told media and other authorities that they had not been raped. Spokane police, however, still believe the twin sisters were attacked by Tensley, as one of the two indicated in a 911 call.

The claim, which was filed with the city last week, alleges that Spokane police investigators encouraged and led the sisters to falsely say they’d been raped when Tensley visited their home on March 21.The sisters, Connie Moran and Joyce Wicke, told The Spokesman-Review on April 1, that police had made up the rape story after officers came to their North Side home when Moran reported a car prowling two days after Tensley had been there. During the interview, Moran said that she had invited Tensley to the home and had consensual sex with him.

However, Moran’s call to 911 about the car prowling indicates that Moran lied about what she reported to police.

When the 911 dispatcher asked Moran if she knew who might be responsible for the car prowling, Moran started crying and said that she believed the man’s name was Preston.

“The other night he came here, and he said that he was with the Spokane Police Department, and so I let him in and he held us up at gunpoint,” Moran told the dispatcher.

The 911 tape was obtained last week by The Spokesman-Review through a records request.

After charges against Tensley were dropped, an apparently scared Moran left a message on his cell phone saying they would have a “case against the Police Department as well, and whatever I get on the settlement, you could have 90 percent of it. I don’t really care.”

She asked Tensley to call her.

“Even if you … hate me, I don’t really care,” she said in the voicemail message provided by Tensley’s attorney. “I’ve spent all freaking week at that stupid courthouse, and I’m sorry that they did that to you.”

Moran also told Tensley that she was wasn’t calling him from home “because I don’t know how angry you are.”

Moran said Tuesday that her life and her children’s lives had been threatened. She would not elaborate on the statement or comment further.

Deputy Chief Al Odenthal said last week that police continue to believe that the sisters were raped.

“We stand by the contents of the interviews that we did with the two gals and the information that they told us,” Odenthal said. “If for whatever reason they elected not to continue in the criminal justice system, I don’t fault them for that other than there was a lot of energy that was put into this, and there are a lot of reasons why people won’t or can’t continue on.”

The charges against Tensley were dropped “without prejudice,” which allows prosecutors to refile charges if new evidence is found.

Police are not actively investigating the case anymore, Odenthal said. They also aren’t investigating if the sisters lied to police.

“If we believe their story to be true and they recant later that doesn’t change the fact that we believe their story is true,” Odenthal said.

Tensley and Moran have said Tensley couldn’t have tricked the sisters into believing he was a police officer because they knew him before the alleged rape.

In an interview last week, Tensley said that he met Moran a couple of weeks before he went to the sisters’ home. He said he was driving next to her on Indiana Avenue and she signaled to him to pull over. He did and they exchanged phone numbers, he said.

Tensley said that on March 21, he received a text message on his cell phone from Moran asking him to come over that night. He said he showed the message to a co-worker and decided to go to her home, where he and Moran had consensual sex.

When Moran was asked in an April 1 interview if she could provide any evidence that she knew Tensley before the alleged rapes, Moran played a voice-mail message from her cell phone, which she said was from Tensley from two weeks before the alleged attack.

When Tensley was booked into jail, he was accused of raping Moran and Wicke. When charges were filed in Superior Court, however, the prosecutor’s office dropped the rape count involving Wicke, who had told at least one police investigator that she had never been raped, according to police reports.

Ed Hay, deputy prosecuting attorney who handled the case, said there was evidence in other reports that indicated Wicke also had been assaulted.

Tensley and his wife say the allegations have been emotionally draining on them and their children. Both recently lost jobs, and they blame the allegations.

“I’ve been applying all over Spokane, but I haven’t been able to get (a new job) since this stuff happened,” Tensley said in an interview last week. “And I don’t think nobody will hire me now because of it.”


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