A jury convicted a Spokane Valley attorney of molesting a girl and a related charge, but acquitted him of child rape and one count of molestation last week.
Ray Deonier, 50, who once ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the state Legislature, was found guilty of two counts of third-degree child molestation and two second-degree counts of possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct. The jury found that the defendant exploited or violated a position of trust with the victim to commit his crimes, which was an aggravating factor.
“With all these charges, there is a special allegation that Mr. Deonier had a position of trust in (the victim’s) life and he abused it,” said Deric Martin, a deputy prosecutor in the Spokane County Prosecutor’s Office.
Deonier was acquitted of three counts of third-degree child rape and first-degree child molestation.
For the two counts of possessing depictions of a minor engaged in sexual explicit conduct, Deonier could face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. The child molestation conviction is punishable by up to five years in jail and up to a $10,000 fine. The felony convictions are also grounds for Deonier to be disbarred.
Deonier, a family law attorney, ran against fellow Republicans Matt Shea and Diana Wilhite for a seat in the Legislature after Lynn Schindler vacated the position in 2008.
The sexual abuse started early in the victim’s life with inappropriate touching and manifested during her 2015-16 freshman year of high school, prosecutors said.
The victim, now 20, said Deonier told her at the apartment that she should be OK with him touching her and that it is normal.
She said Deonier told her to “accept us” and “let me love you.” She said he told her they were supposed to be together in a relationship.
The victim cried several times on the stand, reaching for tissues at times, but was able to speak clearly.
“This is really hard to talk about,” she said.
She reported the sexual abuse to a school resource officer in April 2016 and then called 911 about the abuse a month later, just after her 15th birthday. She said the abuse continued after the first report.
She said she decided to report the abuse when she realized she could not control what Deonier was doing to her.
“I was trying to save myself,” she said.
Detectives investigated the reports, but the case was temporarily classified as inactive in 2016 because photos and videos the victim secretly collected during the abuse were not retrievable with the technology at the time.
The Spokane County Sheriff’s Office got new technology in May 2019 that allowed them to bypass PIN protected cellphones and retrieve the evidence.
“It was so shocking,” the victim told the court. “I didn’t think that day would come.”
Deonier was charged soon thereafter.
The evidence included explicit photos of the victim with identifiable body parts of Deonier, according to court documents. The photos and videos were recorded on Deonier’s iPhone and discovered in a vault application that was disguised as a calculator and required a passcode to access, the court documents said.
The victim made multiple voice recordings of Deonier asking her to perform sexual acts, but police were unable to recover the recordings because she said Deonier had reset her phone to factory settings through an app.
Deonier told the sheriff’s office in 2016 that he had wiped the victim’s iPhone on multiple occasions as a punishment for her “bad or disrespectful behavior,” according to court documents.
In her opening statement, Brooke Foley, Deonier’s attorney, told the jury that Martin picked facts that met the prosecution’s objectives.
“Those are the facts that are viewed with the most negative of lenses,” Foley said.
“We believe that if you listen carefully and consider the testimony and the evidence that’s going to be presented to you, the only real conclusion that you can reach is that this is a difficult time and a tragic year in the life of a family who is struggling on so many different levels,” Foley said.
Deonier was jailed after the verdict was read and will remain there until his sentencing.
Reporter Emma Epperly contributed to this story.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.