Attorney says video that would have cleared him in rapes erased
A Seattle attorney facing multiple rape charges wants all the charges dismissed on grounds that surveillance footage of some of the alleged rapes — now erased — would have shown he engaged in consensual sex.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The defense team representing Seattle attorney Danford Grant filed a motion last week seeking to have multiple rape charges against him dropped, saying police failed to preserve secret video footage that could have cleared Grant.
The defense alleges the footage was erased by the owner of a Greenwood massage parlor. The motion seems to suggest that all of Grant’s alleged victims were engaged in prostitution.
“We don’t believe the claim has merit,” Ian Goodhew, deputy chief of staff to King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, said of the defense motion. “The existence of secret video was unknown to us as well.”
Goodhew declined further comment but said the state has until April 14 to file its response. Grant’s trial is scheduled to begin in May.
Arrested on Sept. 24, 2012, near Carnation Massage in Greenwood, Grant has been charged with seven felonies, including four counts of first-degree rape involving alleged assaults on massage therapists in Bellevue, Shoreline and Seattle between June and September 2012, according to charging documents. He is also charged with second-degree rape, attempted second-degree rape and first-degree burglary.
Grant, who turned 49 on Sunday, posted $1 million bail and has been on electronic home detention since November 2012.
The motion to dismiss, written by defense attorney Richard Hansen, accuses the owner of Carnation Massage, Jie Shao, of tampering with the recordings and erasing footage that would have shown Grant engaging in consensual, paid sex.
“All seven of the charges against the defendant involve his alleged interaction with Asian women working in the massage industry where acts of prostitution ranging from so-called ‘happy endings’ to sexual intercourse are common,” the motion says.
It later concludes, “due to the similarity of all the charges, involving masseuses operating in a marginal industry where illegal sex practices are pervasive ... the loss of critical exculpatory evidence affects all the charges.”
Hansen could not immediately be reached for comment Monday.
While the defense motion claims all of the women are somehow connected “through a boyfriend and Jie Shao,” it isn’t clear how the defense came to the conclusion that all of Grant’s accusers are seemingly involved in prostitution.
The motion also claims DNA recovered from towels, clothing and the back seat of a car where one rape allegedly occurred belonged to men other than Grant.
Charging papers say that Grant wore condoms in at least some of the alleged rapes.
According to the defense motion, Seattle police knew about a surveillance camera in the reception area of Carnation Massage but didn’t know there were hidden cameras in each of two massage rooms, including the room where two alleged rapes and an alleged attempted rape occurred.
That discovery was made by a defense expert well over a year after Grant’s arrest, according to the motion, which says that video “was destroyed because of gross mismanagement and reckless indifference by the state.”
The motion, quoting a defense interview with a Seattle police detective, indicates that investigators were told four days after Grant’s arrest that there was a technical problem with the DVR system that prevented them from retrieving footage from the hard drive.
The defense is also seeking to suppress evidence seized by Seattle and Bellevue police from Grant’s home, office, computers and car, arguing the search warrants filed in the case weren’t specific enough.
Sara Jean Green: 206-515-5654 or firstname.lastname@example.org