SEATTLE — The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office (KCPAO) filed charges Thursday against a 57-year-old man allegedly involved in two separate rape investigations.
Court documents show the second alleged crime happened days after he was released from custody.
According to the KCPAO, Myron Lee Jacobs is charged with second-degree rape, third-degree rape and unlawful imprisonment.
The first incident happened in Seattle on the evening of April 25. According to charging documents, the Seattle Fire Department and Seattle police officers responded to an encampment near the intersection of Sixth Avenue South and Airport Way South for a medical call.
When first responders arrived on the scene, they heard a woman calling for help inside a tent. First responders located the tent and a “nearly naked” woman exited stating she had been raped, court documents show. Officers found a naked man inside the tent. The man, who was identified as Jacobs, was arrested at the scene.
While she was receiving medical treatment, the victim told officers Jacobs would cover her mouth when she tried to call for help and that she had been choked and beaten, court documents say. The woman was taken to Harborview Medical Center for further treatment.
The Seattle Police Department’s (SPD) Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Unit also responded to investigate. While at the hospital, the victim told investigators she did now know the man inside the tent with her and admitted to smoking narcotics.
The victim told nurses at Harborview that Jacobs had “held fire to her," according to court documents.
Jacobs was booked into the King County Jail on investigation of rape. The King County District Court found probable cause existed.
According to court documents, SPD was still investigating the incident and did not submit the case for charging to the KCPAO at the time of Jacobs’ second court appearance on April 28. Because the case was not submitted for charges, Jacobs was released due to court rules only allowing someone to be held for 72 hours if a case is not sent to investigators or prosecutors for charges.
KCPAO said it received the documents required to charge Jacobs after his release.
"The really heartbreaking part is that in the time that he was released because the case wasn't referred to us yet, there was a second rape that happened,” said Casey McNerthney with KCPAO.
A second woman claimed she was raped by Jacobs at the same encampment three days later on May 1. According to court documents, the second victim, who is seven to eight months pregnant, agreed to go into Jacobs' tent “to talk but was clear it was only to talk.”
Court documents say the victim smoked an unknown drug and began nodding off. Jacobs then allegedly hit her in the face and eye and would not let her leave the tent for four to five hours. Jacobs disarmed the victim when she pulled out a knife, documents show.
Investigators say Jacobs then raped the woman. According to court documents, the victim told police Jacobs told her he “knew he could get away with it,” because “he was arrested last week for raping another transient female and was released from jail.”
"If we had met the 72-hour window to get everything done, that person probably would have still been in jail. So that definitely falls on us if it's not done within the 72 hours, and that's something that we'll take full responsibility for if it is a fault of ours or if it was something that we needed to get done,” said Acting Sergeant Patrick Michaud.
He went on to say the Seattle Police Department's lack of resources is a factor. In the last couple of years, hundreds of officers have left. SPD’s sexual assault unit has six detectives. The unit is half the size it was in 2019. Cases involving children, in-custody suspects, and violent offenders are prioritized. Cases where police are waiting on evidence can be temporarily unassigned.
The sexual assault unit currently has more than 130 unassigned cases. When it comes to the cases detectives refer, a graph provided by the Prosecuting attorney's office shows the number dropped after 2020, reaching a five-year low.
"It's not something that we as a department are happy with, we know the community isn't happy with, and it's just one of those things that happens as we continue to lose officers, those cases continue to build up," said Michaud.
The victim eventually left the tent but somehow caught fire and was seriously burned, according to court documents. A witness heard the victim screaming and saw the victim on fire as he exited his tent. The witness told police the victim pointed at Jacobs and said, “He raped me,” according to court documents.
Jacobs fled the scene on a bike.
Officers returned to the encampment the next morning and found Jacobs at his tent. Jacobs was arrested for a second time for investigation of rape.
During an interview at Seattle police headquarters, Jacobs told investigators he had sex with the “native girl,” according to court documents. During the interview, police said Jacobs would talk about “unrelated events” and would not answer why he was under arrest.
Jacobs is being held at the King County Jail. He is scheduled to appear in court for arraignment on May 19.