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Jury acquits Airway Heights man of employee rape

Defense claimed woman had motivation to lie

An Airway Heights man was cleared of rape and kidnapping charges by a unanimous jury Tuesday after a young female employee made allegations of such an attack last summer.

Thomas C. Rohn, 38, was found not guilty of first-degree rape, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment in a case that landed him in jail in August 2011 with a $260,000 bond. The arrest was lauded by an Airway Heights detective, who said he was glad to have Rohn off the street.

With his head down, Rohn shuddered and cried after the Spokane County jury cleared his name.

“They tried to blackmail me. They tried to get me to pay $5,000 or they would accuse me of rape,” Rohn said of the two female employees who accused him of the abduction and sexual assaults. Airway Heights “police never investigated it,” Rohn said. “I’m an innocent man.”

Rohn was arrested last summer on three counts of first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping after two young employees claimed that they gave him rides from their jobs at the Organic Spa kiosk in NorthTown Mall to Rohn’s home in Airway Heights. Rohn was manager.

Despite three counts of both kidnapping and rape, Rohn stood trial for just one count of each involving one of the women.

The alleged victim – who was 19 at the time – claimed that she gave Rohn a ride home at his request. Once inside his home, she claimed Rohn locked his door, forced her into his bedroom, blindfolded her and raped her as he ordered her to say, “I deserved to be punished,” according to court records.

But Rohn’s attorney, Brooke Hagara, told the jury in closing arguments Monday that the alleged victim told several versions of her story, which Hagara labeled a cover story to explain to the woman’s boyfriend why she was with Rohn.

The alleged victim “got wrapped up in something that went rapidly out of control,” Hagara said Monday. She “had a boyfriend. She had a motive to lie. She got herself into a situation that escalated rapidly out of control.”

Deputy Prosecutor Eugene Cruz immediately left the courtroom after the verdict Tuesday. But on Monday, he asked the jury to convict Rohn.

The young woman “was duped into thinking that she was just going to give the defendant a ride and of course the defendant has something else in mind.”

At trial, Rohn testified that they had consensual sex.

After the case ended, Rohn, with tears still streaming down his face, walked over to Hagara and said: “You are one of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. You gave me my life back.”

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