July 20th, 2012 | Corey Pein News | Posted In: Cops and Courts, Tech, Business

'Craigslist Rapist' Catches A Break At State Supreme Court

craigslist rapistRonald Marcus Leistiko - Oregon Department of Corrections

Ronald Marcus Leistiko of Tigard became known as "the Craigslist rapist" during his widely covered 2008 serial rape trial in Washington County Circuit Court.

A jury convicted Leistiko that year of 15 criminal counts including strangulation, kidnapping, assault, stalking, harassment and and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

His convictions also included two counts of first-degree rape, although he was acquitted on a third count.

Those convictions were upheld on appeal. But yesterday, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that the lower courts had erred in admitting some testimony that helped win the rape convictions, and kicked Leistiko's rape charges back down to circuit court for further proceedings.

His other convictions are unaffected by the ruling. Leistiko, now 57, is confined at the Oregon State Penitentiary, and not due to be released until 2032, state Corrections Department records show.

Court records show that Leistiko's first victim had advertised erotic services on Craigslist; she danced for Leistiko at his home, then, she testified, he tackled her, choked her and smothered her with a pillow. She told him she'd stop screaming if only he wore a condom.

The second victim, whom Leistiko saw three times, was 15 years old the first time, and had her ad placed by a pimp.

Leistiko's third victim was an 18-year-old recent high school graduate who had placed an ad in Craigslist's "women seeking men" section. She met Leistiko at his home for a date, where he pulled his usual routine:

She kept telling him to stop, and he "kept saying, 'Don't fight it. We're just trying to have fun.'" Afterwards, he cooked a hamburger for her and did some work on her car.

At trial, prosecutors called a fourth victim as a witness, a unlicensed masseuse who advertised that she was "not a full service girl."

The masseuse testified that Leistiko raped her during a session, although charges were not filed.

After his conviction and sentencing, Leistiko appealed, saying the masseuse's testimony should not have been admitted and prejudiced the jury against him. The Supreme Court agreed (pdf), in a unanimous opinion authored by Justice Rives Kistler (pdf).

What the masseuse described was not similar enough to the three cases to be admitted as evidence, Kistler wrote.

Furthermore, the opinion goes on, the jury should not have considered the masseuse's testimony as evidence unless it also found that the event she described actually took place—which would've required prosecutors to essentially build another case.

But most importantly, Kistler wrote, "the Court reasoned that the fact that one person consented (or refused to consent) to sexual intercourse does not mean that another person made the same choice."

Leistiko, a former longeshoreman, fared worse in a civil appeal against the International Longeshore and Warehouse Union Local 8, which stripped him of membership.

In an opinion published this March, a panel of judges on the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals called Leistiko's arguments of unfair treatment by the union "unpersuasive."

 
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