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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

In brief: Woman reports rape at survival center

An employee at Fairchild Air Force Base’s Survival Training Center is accused of raping a woman in an interrogation room.

Michael W. Fassbender, 32, was in Spokane County Jail on $20,000 bail after appearing Wednesday in Spokane County Superior Court on one count of first-degree rape.

Deputies responded about 1 a.m. Tuesday to Fairchild, where a woman said that Fassbender had choked her into unconsciousness while raping her and that “she feared for her life,” according to a probable cause affidavit. Deputies found blood on a desk and chair in an interrogation room at the center, and the woman reportedly had red marks and bruises on her arms, chest and legs.

Fassbender, who a public defender said has no criminal history, is an employee with SERE Solutions, a Spokane-based company that provides contracted instructors to the military.

Meghann M. Cuniff

City Ethics Committee puts off French review

The city’s Ethics Committee will delay for at least a month its review of Spokane Councilman Al French’s ties to a bus bench advertising company.

French requested the review in August after critics questioned his successful push to change city regulations to allow bus bench advertising. At the time, French reportedly was working as an architect for Thomas Hamilton, co-owner of Emerald Outdoor Advertising, on an apartment complex. Emerald sells bus bench advertising.

French disputes any suggestion that his ties to Hamilton created a conflict of interest, arguing he’d supported bus bench advertising for years.

Wednesday’s delay came because too few of the Ethics Committee’s members were able to meet. The committee is scheduled to meet again Dec. 2.

Jonathan Brunt

Detectives on lookout for missing love seat

Detectives are looking for a love seat that was removed recently from the home of a homicide victim, the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office said Wednesday.

Detectives on Tuesday searched the home of Jesus Torres Valdovinos, 25, at 623 E. Vicksburg Ave. in north Spokane, where they found carpet impressions where a love seat had been.

A witness “familiar with the home” told detectives the love seat matched a couch still at the residence, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

“Although they don’t yet know the significance of the missing piece of furniture, the fact that it has disappeared piqued their interest,” Sgt. Dave Reagan said.

The love seat may have been dumped along a road or alley in north Spokane or left in a vacant lot or trash pile, detectives said.

Valdovinos’ body was found Sunday wrapped in a pair of blankets along the shoulder of Day-Mt. Spokane Road.

Anyone with information about the love seat is asked to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233.

Meghann M. Cuniff