Convicted rapist who tried to rape man in Pasco denies offenses

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldMay 20, 2014 

Ronald Love Trial

Convicted Pasco sex offender Ronald Love tries to hides his face with an envelope May 20 as he enters the courtroom.

BOB BRAWDY — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

A career criminal who raped two women in California and tried to rape a man in Pasco said Tuesday that he's never committed a sexual offense.

Ronald Dale Love told jurors he was forced to make a plea bargain after he was charged for the 1991 attempted rape near a Pasco apartment complex.

Love, 56, blamed it on poor representation and claimed he couldn't pass up a shorter prison term, but said he didn't realize that once done, the state would be "illegally detaining me."

After serving his criminal sentence and spending another 13 years locked up on an involuntary commitment, Love is trying to show the jury in his Franklin County Superior Court trial that he's not a threat and should be released.

State attorneys believe Love continues to have a mental abnormality that makes it difficult for him to control his sexual behavior, and fear he likely will reoffend if set free.

The state Attorney General's Office is asking jurors to review the evidence and decide Love meets the definition of a sexually violent predator. That would allow the state to keep Love on a civil commitment under a state law passed in 1990.

Love already has spent 13 years in the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, a facility operated by the state Department of Social and Health Services.

On Tuesday, Love referred to the center as a concentration camp, saying he's "kind of like the guys over in Guantanamo Bay."

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Howe asked Love if he's responsible for doing anything that led to his being in the facility.

"There's a lot of things in my life that I did that I been punished for," Love testified. "And there's a lot of things in my life that I been accused of that I been punished for that I didn't do."

Howe wanted to know just how Love was forced to plead guilty -- did someone hold a gun to his head, press a knife to his throat or grab his hair and beat his face? Love said it was none of those.

Love was allowed to talk without interruption for most of his 45 minutes on the witness stand, with only a handful of questions from Howe.

The court took a recess and ended the day when Love choked up as he recalled telling his ailing dad that night 23 years ago that he was "fixing to go to jail."

But, before the jurors were out of the room, Love yelled, "Why you keep staring at me, man?" His comment was directed at Assistant Attorney General Malcolm Ross, and cut off Judge Robert Swisher who was speaking to the panel at the time.

Bob Thompson, Love's Pasco lawyer, later told the court his client believed Ross was "mad dogging" him.

The victim in the 1991 case testified Tuesday that he went to a Pasco apartment with a friend who was dating a girl there.

The 19-year-old man said Love came into the apartment twice, and the second time asked if he wanted to go get beer. He testified that Love was weird and intimidating, and said he agreed to go only because he was kind of scared of Love.

The man is not named under a Herald policy to not identify people who report being sexually assaulted.

He said Love grabbed him by the hair, took him to the ground, got on top of him and punched him in the face many times. The teen took off his pants as ordered because he thought Love had a knife or a gun, then said his attacker sexually assaulted him but didn't follow through on his threats to rape him.

Love claims the teen initiated the contact, and said he elbowed the younger man because he didn't know who had come up behind him.

Love has two rape convictions from 1978 in Modesto, Calif. -- the rapes were just 30 minutes apart -- and a burglary and assault.

Howe, in his opening statement, told jurors the saying that applies to this trial is, "No matter how things change, they still stay the same."

Testimony will show Love's callousness and disregard for others, and that he's "unable or unwilling to come to grips with the facts that brought him here," said Howe.

Thompson said the state doesn't have any evidence to show Love suffers from paraphilia, a psychosexual disorder characterized by sexual fantasies, feelings or activities involving a nonconsenting partner.

He said jurors will hear from officials at the Special Commitment Center how Love hasn't shown any deviant behaviors and how he couldn't hide that if he had the disorder.

Love should be allowed to live in the Spokane area where he can be closer to his Native American culture. He will remain on community supervision for two years, be back in court if he steps slightly out of line, Thompson said.

-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; kkraemer@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @KristinMKraemer

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