Prosser man faces child rape charges

August 1, 2013 

Jonathan Kuhlman.

COURTESY BENTON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE

A Prosser man is accused of befriending at least two Kiona-Benton City High School girls, giving them marijuana and sexually assaulting them.

Additional charges were filed Thursday against Jonathan E. Kuhlman, 41, after Benton County prosecutors learned of a second alleged victim.

And authorities believe there may be more girls and women who’ve had run-ins with Kuhlman and are asking them to come forward as investigators continue to work the case.

Kuhlman has a Sept. 16 trial scheduled in Benton County Superior Court.

He pleaded innocent Thursday to charges of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes, third-degree child rape, third-degree attempted rape of a child and distribution of marijuana to a person under 18.

Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra asked to have his bail set at $50,000, but Judge Vic VanderSchoor set it at $30,000. Kuhlman has been behind bars since July 24 after Benton County sheriff’s deputies received a report that he approached a 15-year-old Ki-Be student who was walking home from school.

Kuhlman started talking with her, then offered her a ride home. When he dropped the teen off at home he programmed his phone number on her phone and told her to give him a call, said deputies.

The next day, Kuhlman and the teen began texting each other by cellphone and posting on Facebook while the girl was at school. She was using her friend’s phone and a school computer, said court documents.

The conversation was sexual in nature and the teen agreed Kuhlman could pick her up from school. He drove her to a cemetery and tried to have sex with her, said the documents.

A concerned friend of the teen texted Kuhlman warning him to return her friend to school or she would call the police. Kuhlman dropped the teen off at school a short time later and allegedly gave her some marijuana.

Detectives also learned a second Ki-Be High School girl reportedly had a similar encounter with Kuhlman earlier this year. He began communicating with the 14-year-old through Facebook.

Reports claim Kuhlman and the student agreed to meet at a bus stop early in the morning to hang out. Kuhlman drove the teen to an orchard, gave her some marijuana, then sexually assaulted her.

She screamed, pushed him away and ran from the vehicle, said court documents. He warned her not to tell anyone. Kuhlman picked up the teens in a small blue truck, but he also is known to drive a small, tan or red work truck, police said.

The Benton County Sheriff’s Office believes there may be other victims and are asking anyone with information to call the sheriff’s office at 509-735-6555.

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