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News >  Crime/Public Safety

Man pleads guilty to four counts of rape in Whitman County spree from two decades ago

July 8, 2022 Updated Fri., July 8, 2022 at 7:46 p.m.

Officers with the Spokane Police Department Special Investigations Unit arrest Kenneth Downing, 47, of Elk, on suspicion of a series of rapes that allegedly occurred almost two decades ago.  (Courtesy of Spokane Police Department)
Officers with the Spokane Police Department Special Investigations Unit arrest Kenneth Downing, 47, of Elk, on suspicion of a series of rapes that allegedly occurred almost two decades ago. (Courtesy of Spokane Police Department)

Kenneth Downing pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of assault in the second degree on Friday in a nearly two-decade-old case from Pullman.

The plea deal was offered with support of the victims, the Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office said in a release. Downing, of Elk, faces 18 years to life in prison.

The survivors’ “remarkable courage and fortitude made this outcome possible,” Chief Prosecuting Attorney Dan LeBeau said in a statement. “I am grateful for their support of this resolution which will spare them having to recount their assaults at trial. I will argue for the maximum penalty allowed by law under his guilty plea.”

In the first incident, a woman reported to the Pullman Police Department in November 2003 that she was raped at gunpoint in her home. A few months later, in March 2004, two women reported that one of them was raped and another tied up by a man with a gun who was waiting for them when they arrived home one morning.

Police were able to locate DNA evidence from the incidents but not a suspect.

Investigators used new genetic technology to link Downing to the rapes and home invasions.

He was arrested in March at a construction job in Spokane.

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