From successful Seattle attorney to accused serial rapist
As he made his way through law school at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Danford Grant mostly kept to himself.
He lived in the loft space of a renovated old church near Kentucky Street and 10th Avenue. It was a suitable space for two, but Grant chose to live alone.
The charming building was a short walk from the college campus and several popular bars, but Dan, as he was known then, rarely went out. Later in life, he told an acquaintance that he struggled with alcohol while growing up on the East Coast and no longer drank.
“He kept to himself a little bit, but he was a nice enough guy,” said a fellow law student who sat next to Grant in their first year tort class with Professor William Westerbeke. They learned about personal injury law and medical malpractice.
Despite being an exceptional student, Grant went largely unnoticed by fellow classmates and professors. Those who remember him say he was driven and focused on his studies rather than making friends.
He finished law school a year early and graduated in the top 10 percent of his class.
In 1995, Grant left Lawrence to pursue his Master of Laws at the University of Washington in Seattle.
He moved into a small home near the Hawthorne Hills neighborhood with his mother and began to try civil employment cases for the Seattle City Attorney’s Office under Mark Sidran.
In 2004, Grant and his wife Jennifer, an assistant Seattle city attorney, relocated to a three-story home on a quiet residential street in Wedgwood.
The two have three children; one girl and two boys. The eldest boy is Grant’s child from a previous relationship.
His mother moved in with the family as well.
Grant appeared to be a dedicated family man. His appointment calendar was filled with reminders of little league games and swim practice. Neighbors often saw him play with his children in the backyard.
He balanced family life with a successful career as a litigator, handling cases for the Washington Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court of Washington and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After stints with Seattle firms Danielson Harrigan Leyh & Tollefson and Stafford Frey Cooper, he made partner at Bailey Grant Onsager.
But police say he wasn’t satisfied.
Just after 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 24, the 47-year-old found himself in the back of a patrol car in Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood. He had been arrested as a suspect in the violent sexual assault of a massage parlor employee and was about to become an accused serial rapist.
In the days that followed, police in Seattle and Bellevue linked Grant to at least five massage parlor rapes and four victims. He was charged with six felonies; including three counts of first-degree rape, one count of second-degree rape, attempted rape and burglary.
Prosecutors called the prominent Seattle attorney “an extreme danger to the community,” and a judge ordered he be held on $3 million bail.
Grant was painted as a violent sexual criminal who threatened his victims with a knife when they refused his advances. The earliest known attack was on July 23 at Carnation Massage, a location police say Grant would return to several times.
According to court documents, Grant paid for a massage and asked the victim whether she was alone. Once in a private room, he pushed her onto a table and said he planned to have sex with her.
“I’m sorry, I am crazy, I have never done this before,” he said, according to the documents.
Police say Grant struck again on Aug. 19, Aug. 28, Sept. 19 and Sept. 24. All of the alleged victims worked at massage parlors and all were Asian.
An attorney who knew Grant but asked not to be named said Grant told a group of male colleagues that he had “a thing” for Asian women.
The same source said Grant sometimes overdressed, and enjoyed the status that came with being a successful attorney. He was concerned with “the great office with the great view and being in a prestigious law firm.”
But Grant was generally well-liked at the firms where he worked and colleagues were “stunned” by his arrest.
“The people who I know are traumatized,” the attorney said. “You think, ‘How did I not see this?’ ‘How could I have been around this person?'”
Grant has pleaded not guilty to rape charges.
If found guilty, he faces life behind bars and stands to lose the title he worked so diligently to obtain: attorney. Debra Carnes, a spokesperson for the Washington State Bar Association, said they would seek to ban Grant from practicing law should he be convicted.
Meanwhile, Seattle police detectives continue to look into the possibility of more victims. KIRO Radio reached out to authorities in Lawrence, who said they will look into unsolved rape cases from the period Grant attended the University of Kansas to determine if there is a connection.