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Serial Rapist Pleads Guilty to Four Counts of Rape in the First Degree and Assault Second Degree with Sexual Motivation

Dan LeBeau, Chief Deputy Prosecutor with the Whitman County Prosecutor’s Office announced today that Kenneth Downing has pled guilty to four counts of rape first degree and one count of assault second degree with sexual motivation – in a 19-year old serial rape case from Pullman, Washington. The plea deal was offered with the support of the victims.

As a result of the plea, Mr. Downing faces 213-283 months to life in prison. If released from prison, he will have to register as a sex offender and will be on life-time supervision with the department of corrections, and the survivors will have a life-time protection order. 

“The survivor’s remarkable courage and fortitude made this outcome possible,” LeBeau said. “I am grateful for their support of this resolution which will spare them having to recount their assaults at trial. I will argue for the maximum penalty allowed by law under his guilty plea.”

Whitman County Judge Gary Libey set a hearing for August 19 to determine Downing’s sentence.

Almost 20 years ago, a woman reported to the Pullman Police Department in November of 2003 that she was raped at gunpoint in her home. Then, in March of 2004 two other Pullman women reported that when they got home early one morning there was a man in their home with a gun. He raped one woman and tied up the other one. 

The Pullman Police Department conducted a very thorough and intensive investigation into both cases but no suspect was identified and the case went cold. However, officers never gave up during the 18-year period. The department pursued Forensic Genetic Genealogy, made possible with through funding from the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, and a profile was developed that led to Kenneth Downing. DNA from Mr. Downing was a confirmed match to the crime scene and he was arrested on March 17, 2022 in Spokane Washington. 

The arrest would not have been possible without the intense focus and efforts of the entire Pullman Police Department, and long diligent work by Officers Jake Opgenorth, Greg Umbright and Aaron Breshears. Further, collaborative efforts from the Washington State Patrol Crime Laboratory, Spokane Police Department, Indentifinders International LLC, the FBI and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office helped bring long overdue justice to the survivors of these assaults. Questions may be directed to Chief Deputy Prosecutor Dan LeBeau.