A former security guard at Phoenix Rising in Auburn, whom the King County Prosecutor charged last week with assaulting and taking indecent liberties with a female resident there, pleaded not guilty to both charges Thursday morning at his arraignment before Superior Court Judge Jim Bowman at the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.
The woman told Auburn Police that 34-year-old Ronald David Rodriguez of Tumwater tried to rape her on the morning of Oct. 5, and when she fought back, squeezed her throat to strangle her.
At Rodriguez’ first court appearance Oct. 12, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Celia Lee asked a Superior Court judge to hold him in King County Jail on $200,000 bond.
“Given the apparent vulnerability of the victim and the defendant’s position of trust and authority and the concern for additional victims, high bail is appropriate,” Lee told the court. “The state is concerned that if released, the defendant will commit further violent acts and poses a significant risk to the community and to the victim.”
Bowman directed that a social worker should complete an assessment of Rodriguez before he, Bowman, considers resetting his bond hearing and determining whether he should be released while his case makes its way through the court system. His case setting hearing is at 1 p.m., Nov. 6 in courtroom G at the RJC.
Rodriguez, who has since acquired another job as a security guard, this time with United Parcel Service near Olympia, has no prior criminal history. He is a 13-year-veteran of the U.S. Army, who completed four military tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Phoenix Rising, which is part of the Valley Cities Behavioral Health campus in Auburn, provides housing and specialized services for 18- to-25-year-old-adults with a history of mental illness, homelessness and or substance abuse.
Here, based on the write-up by Auburn Police, is a brief summary of what happened.
According to Auburn Police, the woman said she awoke on the morning of Oct. 5 to find Rodriguez standing over her bed, pulling the covers back and trying to remove her pants. When she sat up in bed to fight him off, she told police, he grabbed her throat, squeezed and held on until she began to lose consciousness.
The victim reported the incident to Phoenix Rising’s clinical services manager, who reported it to the director. The director then notified Rodriguez’ employer, who called police.
According to the police account, the victim had recently left the facility, preferring to live again on the streets to avoid Rodriguez, whom she had known for about three months, because of his unwelcome behavior, which included, she told police, his suggestion that she visit the facility with him after hours when no one else was there. She had recently returned at the time of the incident.
According to the police account, the victim also informed Phoenix Rising’s director about a former female resident who had had an at-first-consensual sexual relationship with the security guard but had stopped coming to the clinic when he turned aggressive.
Upon his subsequent arrest at his place of employment, Rodriguez at first denied sexually assaulting the woman, according to the police account, but confronted with the video, admitted to groping her and to strangling her, “a little.” According to the police account, a police officer noticed that while Rodriguez was providing his statement, he appeared to have an erection.
According to the police account, Rodriguez admitted during his interview that the woman had never agreed to have sex with him, acknowledged that she never actually consented to any physical contact, sexual or otherwise, and that his behavior was inappropriate because he was a security guard and she a patient and recovering addict.
According to the police account, on Oct. 10, an Auburn Police officer met with the clinic’s director and Rodriguez’ employer and they acknowledged that Rodriguez had in the past been verbally reprimanded for making inappropriate, sexist and racial comments to staff and others on campus, and that his behavior was inappropriate and overly intimate toward woman but the complete opposite with men.