02/24/2014 12:48 pm ET Updated Feb 24, 2014

Sex Assault Victim Jailed To Make Her Testify Against Accused Rapist

A sexual assault victim in Washington state was arrested Tuesday and held in jail to guarantee that she testifies against the accused perpetrator.

The 43-year-old woman has not been charged with a crime, The Longview Daily News reports, but a Cowlitz County judge ordered a material witness warrant for her after she failed to show up for pre-trial meetings with prosecutors.

Chief Criminal Deputy James Smith said material witness warrants are requested only "as a last resort," according to the Associated Press.

Those prosecutors allege that in October 2012, Donald Howard McElfish and the victim's ex-boyfriend, Brandy Lyle Jensen, forced her into McElfish's apartment, where Jensen tied her to a chair at knifepoint and McElfish sexually assaulted her.

The woman later was able to free herself, running naked to a nearby home for help.

Jensen pleaded guilty to second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault as part of a plea deal in which he agreed to testify against McElfish. McElfish, whose trial is scheduled for March, is facing a slew of charges including first-degree attempted rape, first-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault with sexual motivation.

The victim, who told the judge she was currently staying with her parents, spent one night in jail after her arrest, and was freed with a court order to appear at the Hall of Justice every week and to continue staying with her parents until the trial.

The Longview Daily News reported that she has already missed one meeting, and her parents told court officials they hadn't heard from their daughter for months.

A similar case drew national attention in 2012, when a 17-year-old rape victim in Sacramento failed to appear at a hearing. She was placed in a juvenile detention center for weeks to ensure she would testify against the man who kidnapped her while she was waiting for a friend at a train station, then raped her.

The teen's lawyer told the Associated Press that the girl was treated as a criminal while incarcerated, housed with juvenile delinquents and inadvertently hit with pepper spray that a guard used to break up a fight between other residents of the facility.


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