Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hailey man charged with rape and kidnapping

Suspect accused of sexually assaulting former girlfriend

Express Staff Writer

Christopher D. Pothier

A 26-year-old Hailey woman was allegedly abducted near City Hall in Hailey last Friday, held for several hours against her will and later raped at her alleged abductor's home.

Now, a 29-year-old Hailey man, who police said is the woman's former boyfriend, faces felony charges of rape and first-degree kidnapping.

Christopher D. Pothier was charged with the crimes Monday afternoon in Blaine County Magistrate Court. He was released later from the Blaine County Jail after posting $100,000 bond.

Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said the alleged abduction took place minutes after the woman had complained at the Police Department that she had been receiving harassing telephone text messages from Pothier and reported that she was in the process of trying to obtain a no-contact order against the defendant.

"She said she was forced into the car just after she left the police station," he said.

The alleged abduction occurred at about 1:30 p.m. McNary said that no one reported hearing screams or noticed any commotion.

He said it had not been determined whether the woman was physically forced into the vehicle, or whether she got in voluntarily.

A Hailey police report states that the alleged victim had formerly lived with Pothier, but that she had left him about a month ago and was seeing another man.

The Hailey Police Department is located in City Hall at 115 S. Main St. in downtown Hailey. The Hailey police report alleges that the abduction took place in the parking area between City Hall and the Sears store to the west.

McNary said police didn't become aware of the situation until several hours later when the alleged victim's sister called the Blaine County Sheriff's Office. That call came in at about 5 p.m. The sister reported that she had seen the alleged victim in Pothier's vehicle, a 2004 Pontiac Grand Am, and that Pothier wouldn't allow the alleged victim to leave.

The police chief said that Pothier apparently drove the woman around in his car for several hours before taking her to his home on Winter Fox Lane in southern Hailey where the woman was allegedly raped.

The alleged rape may have taken place while police were looking for the woman and Pothier. McNary said police knocked on the door at Pothier's house but there was no indication that anyone was home. However, evidence indicates that Pothier and the woman were inside the house at the time.

The police report states that the woman told investigators that Pothier "covered her mouth while he was raping her because the police were outside knocking at the door."

The police chief said the suspect later returned the woman to the parking lot by City Hall and allowed her to leave. The woman then called relatives, who took her to St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center for examination.

McNary said police learned that the woman was at the hospital at about 6:20 p.m.

Pothier was contacted at his home later that evening. A search warrant was obtained and executed, and Pothier was arrested at about 11 p.m.

McNary said the woman had scratches and bruises on her body, indicating that a struggle had taken place. She also reported that she sprayed the defendant several times with mace until he took the container away from her and threw it out the car window.

The case is the sixth felony sex crime case in Hailey within the past year.

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