Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Former rape suspect claims he’s a ‘prophet’

Man accused in severe beating of former alleged rape victim

Express Staff Writer

Christopher D. Pothier

A Blaine County man who had a rape charge dismissed against him last summer is now accused of severely beating the same woman to make her repent of her sins.

Thirty-year-old Christopher D. Pothier is being held without bond in the Blaine County Jail pending a mental evaluation, ordered after Pothier was reportedly "drooling and screaming" at his arraignment hearing last Thursday. The arraignment had to be continued and Pothier was placed in physical restraints.

"We had to lead him out of there like Hannibal Lecter," said Lt. Jay Davis, jail administrator for the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.

Blaine County Magistrate Court Judge R. Ted Israel removed himself from the case following the attempted hearing, and it was reassigned to Camas County Magistrate Judge Jason D. Walker.

Pothier, who previously lived in Hailey, had felony charges of forcible rape, first-degree kidnapping, battery, destruction of evidence and forcible penetration by use of foreign object dismissed in August 2007. The dismissals were granted at the request of the alleged victim, Pothier's girlfriend, who notified the court that "the allegations were blown out of proportion" and that she would not testify against Pothier at a preliminary hearing.

Following the dismissals, Hailey police were called numerous times to either Pothier's or the woman's home in Hailey on various complaints involving the couple.

The same woman, who was 26 last summer, was living with Pothier on First Avenue North in Gannett when the newest alleged beating occurred on the evening of April 22 and continued into the next morning.

Pothier allegedly beat the woman in front of her 5- and 7-year-old children and forced her to "get on her knees and repent before these children for being a whore," states a report filed by the Blaine County Sheriff's Office. He further allegedly threatened to "end" the woman's "evil life so she could repent in front of God."

"If he had to end his own life as a martyr he would," the report continues, quoting from the woman and her mother, who both claimed that "Pothier thinks he is God's disciple."

The report, a probable cause affidavit written by sheriff's officer Steve Maher, alleges that Pothier punched the woman on her head, arms and legs, attempted to strangle her, pushed her to the ground and pulled her hair.

Numerous bruises and abrasions on the woman's body supported her claims to the severity of the beatings, Maher wrote in the report.

The mother of the woman reported to investigators that she removed the children from the home the following morning. The report does not make clear how the alleged victim escaped.

Maher wrote that he found Pothier later that day at the Gannett home "laying in the fetal position." He further wrote that Pothier was quoting scriptures and said he was a "prophet."

Pothier was arrested on a felony charge of "domestic battery resulting in traumatic injury."

Lt. Davis reported that Pothier was "talking like he was the savior" and at times claimed he was "fasting" and refused to eat.

An arraignment on April 24 could not be completed because of "outbursts from defendant," states the hearing minutes prepared by the court clerk's office. The minutes further report that Pothier was "drooling and screaming" and lists an aka for the defendant as "Christopher David Cherub."

Judge Israel ordered a mental evaluation because the "defendant's conduct in the courtroom call into question his fitness to proceed." The order did not specify a deadline for completion of the evaluation.

Before removing himself from the case, Israel also ordered that Pothier be held without bond. Public defender Douglas Werth was appointed to represent him.

In the case last summer against Pothier, he allegedly abducted the woman on June 22, held her against her will for several hours, forcibly raped her, battered her, forced oral sex upon her and forced the woman to shower while he used soap on her to destroy evidence.

In a letter to the court requesting dismissal of the charges, the woman wrote that she did not believe that Pothier is a threat to either herself or to the community.

"I believe Christopher is a good man who really strives to be a good person," the woman wrote. "He is the most devout, God-fearing person I've met."

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