August 3, 2011 in City

Beauty shop operator accused of raping employees

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The operator of a beauty shop in the NorthTown Mall in Spokane is in jail on rape charges involving two of his teenage employees.

Thomas C. Rohn, 37, is accused of sexually assaulting the 18- and 19-year-old women on separate occasions at his apartment in Airway Heights after they were hired to work at the mall beauty and spa kiosk.

Rohn operates the business with his roommate, Kirk Willis, who said Wednesday that he doesn’t know what happened but added that he doesn’t condone the alleged acts.

Willis is the sole owner of the store, which received its business license from the city of Spokane in June.

The shop remains open, Willis said, and the alleged victims remain employed.

“All of the girls really like it here,” he said.

Police said they don’t believe Willis was involved in the alleged assaults but said they fear Rohn, who was arrested on suspicion of sexual assault in Alaska in 1994, may have more victims.

“Luckily he in custody, but the investigation is still in its infancy,” said Kelly Justice, a detective with the Airway Heights Police Department. “We still have a bunch of people to speak to.”

Rohn is in Spokane County Jail and was unavailable for comment, but public defender John Whaley said Wednesday at Rohn’s first appearance in Superior Court that Rohn insists he’s innocent.

“He certainly feels that these are outrageous allegations that are being made,” Whaley said. “He’s an innocent man.”

Rohn’s bond was set at $260,000 on three counts each of first-degree rape, first-degree kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz requested high bond for Rohn because of the seriousness of the charges and because he believes Rohn may flee the area if released. Police found plane tickets to and from several states while searching Rohn’s apartment, including California, Nevada, Oregon and Alaska, Cruz said.

They also recovered marijuana, massage oil, bed sheets and clothing that will be processed for additional evidence, according to a search warrant filed Wednesday, which authorized police to search Rohn’s apartment at 12821 W. 19th Ave. in Airway Heights.

Police started investigating Rohn after one of the teens went to the emergency room at Holy Family Hospital about 11:30 p.m. Sunday and said she’d been raped in Airway Heights. The woman said she’d worked at the kiosk for about two weeks and often talks to Rohn about psychology. Rohn said he could teach her about psychology, and later asked for a ride to his apartment because he didn’t feel well. He invited her inside the apartment, locked the door, then ordered her into a bedroom in what the woman “describes as a stern voice,” according to court documents. He removed the woman’s clothes, tied a rag around her eyes and sexually assaulted her as she wept, documents allege. The woman told police Rohn made her say “I deserve my punishment” several times.

Detectives learned of the other alleged victim when contacting other acquaintances of Rohn. The girl said Rohn had raped her twice at his apartment on Thursday and Friday and said he’d told her “that if she was going to work for him she needed to learn how to pleasure both a man and a woman,” according to court documents.

She said Rohn said he wanted to build trust but repeatedly grabbed her and removed her clothes as she pleaded with him not to.

According to online court records, Rohn was arrested on first-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor charges in Alaska in 1994, but the charges were dismissed.


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