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Serial rapist’s conviction spotlights a decade of crime
The conviction of a man last week whom prosecutors call a serial rapist has underscored the need to ensure community members, and especially teen girls, understand that even bucolic Vashon is not immune to such crimes, advocates say.
Brian Dublin, 28, was convicted Thursday of two counts of first-degree rape, one count of attempted first-degree rape and three counts of burglary. He faces 37 to 48 years in prison, with a chance that his sentence could be extended to life. Sentencing is scheduled to take place Oct. 21.
Dublin, a Vashon resident and a 2000 graduate of Vashon High School, was arrested in May 2010 and charged with the January 2010 rape of a 16-year-old girl and the October 2003 rape of an 18-year-old girl. Charges were later amended to include the attempted rape of a 12-year-old girl in July 2006.
In all three incidents, he entered the girls’ ground-floor bedrooms through unlocked doors while their parents slept in nearby rooms and made harsh, obscenity-laced threats to the victims, suggesting he’d come back and hurt them or their families if they told anyone.
In a 36-page brief that prosecutors filed last month, they outlined several other alleged assaults on Vashon, painting the picture of a man they called “a serial rapist whose crimes spanned the better part of the last decade.” All told, they contend, Dublin raped or attempted to rape seven girls and women over the course of a decade — in some instances using alcohol and so-called “date rape drugs” that caused the victim to black out.
“In addition to breaking into homes and using fear and surprise as a weapon to commit sexual attacks, Dublin has also used more subtle means — either alcohol or something more nefarious — to commit his assaults,” deputy prosecutor Sean O’Donnell wrote in the brief.
Dublin’s lawyer Anthony Grasher did not return phone calls. Dublin is in King County Jail awaiting sentencing and could not be reached for comment.
Activists say Dublin’s history of assault is shocking, especially the brazen nature of his crimes — sneaking into girls’ bedrooms in the cover of night while parents and siblings slept nearby. But such crimes can occur anywhere, some say, and his conviction highlights the importance of taking basic precautions, such as locking one’s door.
“I think sometimes we get complacent or overly assured that we’re extra safe here. And that’s not true,” said Ken Maaz, the executive director of Vashon Youth & Family Services.
“I don’t want people on Vashon to be frightened and living in fear,” added Tavi Black, the director of Vashon’s new anti-domestic violence program, DoVE. “But it’s important to realize things like this can happen here.”
Dublin’s crimes, however, were not only middle-of-the-night attacks in a victim’s home. He was also a known participant in Vashon’s youth-oriented party scene, often the one providing both the site for a party and the alcohol, according to the prosecutor’s detailed brief and the detective who investigated the assaults.
Community activists and parents have occasionally expressed concern about a handful of men who attend teen parties, plying girls
with alcohol and making sexual advances. Dublin’s conviction provides a glimpse into that world, and advocates say his actions underscore the need to educate young people about the dangers of such parties and the use of date-rape drugs as well as the need to have a broader conversation about sexual assault on the Island.
“We need to talk about what’s happening,” Black said.
Black plans to work with another agency to host some discussions and workshops about date rape and domestic violence. Dublin’s crimes don’t fit neatly into that category, she noted, but there’s still much community members can learn from his case, the prevalence of sexual assault and the role a community can play in trying to prevent it.
“It’s really all about education,” she said. “Vashon’s so good about banding together and saying, ‘We won’t take this here.’ This is one of those issues that’s really, really important.”
Det. Michael Gordon, who investigated the Dublin case for the King County Sheriff’s Office, said he was struck during the course of his investigation by the party scene and the role young men old enough to buy alcohol play on Vashon.
“This case definitely illuminated that,” he said. “There’s definitely a party and drinking culture out there. No question about it.”
Both Gordon and the prosecutor’s brief paint a picture of a horrific series of rapes, attempted rapes and assaults, including a few instances where teen girls drank in his home, got sick and then woke up to find themselves in Dublin’s bed with him on top of them.
But Dublin’s “most egregious conduct,” the brief says, “was when he attacked without warning in the dead of night.”
The first incident occurred in 2003, when he snuck into a Maury Island home wearing what looked like a surgical mask and wielding a knife and raped an 18-year-old. “Don’t make a sound; your family is all tied up,” he told the young woman.
Gordon said he and others in his unit worked hard to solve the case and ultimately developed a profile on the perpetrator. But they found no suspects who fit that profile, and Gordon realized he likely couldn’t solve the case unless the perpetrator attacked again.
Dublin did so in 2006, when he entered a home on the Westside Highway and attempted to assault a 12-year-old. When he let go of her for a moment, the girl bolted — running out of the house and around to the front to her parents’ bedroom.
But according to the prosecutor, solid police work — including the use of trackers at the Westside Highway site — helped investigators piece together more clues that were ultimately used to convict him. Those trackers after the 2006 incident found a clear trail with footprints headed to the girl’s home, pausing at a tree he apparently climbed that gave him a vantage point into her room and continuing onto her house; the shoe size, they determined, was 10.5, Dublin’s shoe size.
In 2010, when Dublin raped again, this time attacking a Vashon High School student, the girl told officers about a “creepy” guy she had seen at a party that night, identifying him as Dublin. Thus began a long effort to piece together what Gordon called an air-tight case — something he did when he obtained Dublin’s DNA from a marijuana pipe confiscated by Chelan County and found that it matched the DNA in both the 2010 and the 2003 rape.
“I’m glad we were able to prosecute this guy,” Gordon said. “It certainly provides closure for the victims and hopefully gives a feeling of security on Vashon, because these have been unsolved cases for a long time.”