Lawyer accused in masseuse rapes: Prostitutes are out to get me
SEATTLE -- As trial nears for Seattle attorney Danford Grant, the purported serial rapist now claims the massage parlor workers he's accused of attacking are jilted prostitutes.
Facing nine felony counts related to allegations that Grant preyed on Asian masseuses in Seattle and Bellevue, attorneys for the married father and former city prosecutor admit he had sex with several of the women but claim he'd paid them for it.
Grant, a 49-year-old Wedgwood resident, is slated to face a King County jury in early May and could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on any of the eight rape or attempted rape counts he now faces. Having pleaded not guilty, he's now prepared to claim that most or all of the women he's alleged to have raped consented to have sex with him.
King County prosecutors claim Grant sexually assaulted five women during a string of attacks beginning in 2011. Grant, a founding partner in a Seattle law firm and onetime assistant city attorney in Seattle, is alleged to have raped four women and attempted to rape a fifth during a series of assaults in the summer and fall of 2012.
Facing at least 45 years in prison if convicted, Grant is described by police as a serial rapist, "obsessed with Asian women," who preyed on immigrant masseuses.
Defense: Police failed to collect sex video
Through his attorneys, Grant claims he was simply frequenting massage parlor-based prostitutes who then turned against him. As the theory goes, the fact that one massage parlor owner hid surveillance videos of the incidents proves the sex was consensual.
Lawyers for Grant - currently under house arrest, accruing credit for time served in custody while awaiting trial - have asked that the charges be thrown out because video taken at the Greenwood massage parlor wasn't obtained by police. The massage parlor operator has since admitted she had installed hidden cameras in the massage rooms; she told investigators she didn't inform police because she thought the cameras might be illegal.
Having faulted police for failing to discover the secret video, Grant's attorneys also fault detectives for searching their client's belongings and property too thoroughly in a series of judicially authorized searches following his arrest.
During the searches, investigators found that a user of tablet computers found in Grant's home - presumably Grant himself - had searched the internet for "rape scenes" and visited a website called rapescenes.net.
"The content of this website is disturbingly consistent with the name," Senior Deputy Prosecutors Val Richey and Corinn Bohn said in court papers. "The defendant also conducted extensive review of hundreds if not thousands of advertisements for Asian massage and escort services on Craigslist and Backpage.com.
"Such material is part and parcel of the series of crimes alleged here - where (Grant) is accused of raping multiple Asian massage therapists - and is evidence of his preparation and identification of victims, as well as his modus operandi."
For his part, Grant previously denied the allegations and described himself as a dutiful husband and father.
"My wife and three children are the most important part of my life," Grant said in a statement to the court.
Prosecutors claim rapist posed as cop
Grant is alleged to have attacked a massage parlor receptionist as she walked to her car in June or July 2012. Prosecutors claim Grant identified himself as a police officer, drove her to a secluded area and raped her in the backseat of her own car.
Prosecutors claim Grant went to another masseuse's home in August 2012 after making an appointment under a fake name; the woman had previously refused to massage Grant because of his sexual advances. According to prosecutors, Grant forced his way into her home, pulled off her clothes and raped her.
Nine days later, Grant arrived at a Bellevue spa for a massage. Once inside the spa, Grant is alleged to have grabbed the woman, told her he wanted to marry her and recited her home address from memory. The woman told police Grant recalled her husband's name as well.
Searches of Grant's computers show he searched online for details about the woman, according to prosecutors' statements. Earlier suspicions that Grant used a legal search service to do so appear to be unfounded.
According to charging papers, Grant drew a folding knife and threatened to cut the woman's face if she fought with him. He is alleged to have then raped her.
The woman told police that Grant was sexually aggressive with her during a massage a year before, but she did not contact the police because he was impotent at the time. She was able to identify him from a montage, and provided police with his year of birth.
Prosecutors contend Grant raped another woman in September 2012 at a small massage parlor in Greenwood.
During that incident, Grant is alleged to have claimed to be a police officer before pulling a knife and raping the woman. According to prosecutors, Grant returned days later and again raped the woman at the clinic.
That time, though, the parlor owner and others arrived as Grant was leaving. A struggle followed, and police arrived to find Grant two blocks from the parlor, located in the 600 block of Northwest 85th Street.
Grant's car - a Honda Pilot - had been parked nearby when he was arrested but was later moved by his wife, a former prosecutor with the city of Seattle. When police finally searched the SUV, detectives claim to have seized a replica pistol, a bag of Viagra and various electronics.
Searches, video at issue as trial approaches
Attorneys for Grant claim the detectives, during the searches that followed, were trolling through Grant's possessions on a court-approved fishing trip.
"Does a criminal defendant, who is presumed innocent, give up his privacy interest in the important areas of his personal life simply by virtue of being accused of multiple, serious, violent crimes?" defense attorneys Cooper Offenbecher and Richard Hansen said in court papers. "The answer is no."
Prosecutors counter that investigators were correct to suspect that Grant's electronics would hold incriminating evidence. The devices were searched after detectives obtained warrants, prosecutors continued, and the examinations were conducted in line with privacy laws.
Grant's attorneys now argue the entire case against him should be tossed out because video from the Greenwood massage parlor wasn't provided to police.
Last month, Grant's attorneys told the prosecution a camera disguised as a smoke detector had been recording the massage room where Grant is alleged to have raped one of the women.
Prosecutors contend the parlor operator never mentioned the hidden cameras in interviews with police. Speaking with prosecutors Monday, she admitted she hadn't been forthcoming out of fear the cameras were illegal.
According to prosecutors, the woman said one video taken minutes before Grant's arrest showed him hugging the masseuse and having sex with her.
"She understood (the woman) was trying to keep the 'bad man' at Carnation until police arrived," a Seattle detective said in court papers. "She did not see anything that indicated to her that there was a struggle or any violence involved."
The woman denied deleting the videos, which have not been provided to investigators. Detectives secured several videos showing Grant inside the massage parlor during three of the attacks.
Prosecutors note that only three of the nine counts filed against Grant relate to the video, which they contend wasn't disclosed to police until the defense informed prosecutors of the hidden camera.
Writing the court, Hansen claimed the massage parlor owner deleted video of the incidents to "destroy what was evidence of prostitution, not rape or attempted rape."
The Seattle detective on the case, a veteran with the department's vice division, noted that he has never encountered cameras at a massage parlor where prostitution is occurring. A massage parlor owner who did so, the detective noted, would simply be creating evidence for the police.
Grant has been charged with three counts of first-degree rape, two counts of second-degree rape, three counts of attempted second-degree rape and one count of burglary with sexual motivation. Pretrial hearings are expected to begin this week. Grant remains free on bond.