Man pleads not guilty in rape case

OLYMPIA - A former trucker serving a 10-years-to-life prison sentence in Nevada for raping a developmentally disabled girl there appeared in a Thurston County courtroom Monday to face charges stemming from the April 2008 rape of a Saint Martin's University student.

Richard Duane Bunch, 51, entered a not-guilty plea to charges of first- degree rape, first-degree robbery while armed with a deadly weapon and first-degree kidnapping while armed with a deadly weapon during his arraignment Monday before Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christine Pomeroy.

A 20-year-old Saint Martin’s student was walking on a trail in a wooded area near campus on April 2, 2008, when she was attacked by an assailant wielding a stun gun, court papers state. The suspect zapped her several times with the stun gun and threatened to kill her during the rape, which occurred in broad daylight, according to court papers.

After the assault, the suspect stole the student’s pants, cell phone and iPod, court papers state.

Bunch, who was formerly employed with Gordon Trucking, was arrested in Pierce County in August 2008 on suspicion of raping a 13-year-old developmentally disabled girl in Washoe County, Nevada.

Bunch was accused in Nevada of approaching the 13-year-old girl at the Sparks Marina, near Reno, in July 2008, two months after the rape in Lacey. They swam briefly before he lured her into his truck by asking if she wanted to watch a movie, according to Washoe County authorities.

After Bunch’s arrest in Pierce County, Lacey Police Detective Steve Brooks recognized that Bunch’s photograph on a news website matched a police artist’s sketch of the suspect in the rape of the Saint Martin’s student.

A DNA sample from Bunch matched the attacker’s DNA that had been taken after the student’s rape, court papers state. Lacey Police Detective Jeremy Knight also found the Saint Martin’s rape victim’s stolen iPod, and a stun gun in the truck that Bunch had been driving for Gordon Trucking.

Prosecutors charged Bunch with the rape of the Saint Martin’s student in September 2008.

Bunch additionally faces yet another rape charge – the rape of a 9-year-old girl at Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

Thurston County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jon Tunheim said in court Monday that Bunch will remain in custody in Washington as he is tried for the rape of the Saint Martin’s student. He will then likely face charges in Kittitas County for the 9-year-old’s rape, he said.

Tunheim said he estimates that Bunch faces an additional prison sentence of between 189 months and life in prison if he is convicted of the rape of the Saint Martin’s student.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465