LOCAL NEWS

Child rapist lost in backlog gets max sentence nearly 20 years after Torchlight attack

Jan 17, 2022, 11:53 AM | Updated: 11:59 am
rape kit, rape kits, Torchlight...
Washington continues to work on clearing its backlog of rape kits. (AP)
(AP)

In July of 2006, a 12-year-old girl who had run away from home in search of her mother made her way to Seattle. It was a beautiful sunny day. It was the day of the Torchlight Parade. The girl, who was wearing shorts and a T-shirt, was walking on Yesler Street asking for help finding her mom, according court records, when she asked a man if she could use his cell phone to call her mother. Her life would never be the same.

Washington AG’s new website shines in massive rape kit backlog effort

That man was then 30-year-old Robert Childs, though nobody knew it for years. When the girl asked to borrow his phone, he grabbed her, took her into an alley, and raped her.

The girl reported the incident that night, and was taken to Harborview Medical Center where she underwent the process of having a sexual assault kit collected – a process that is vital to collect necessary evidence, but is also invasive and can be re-traumatizing, even for adult sexual assault survivors.

The good news was there was DNA evidence collected that July night in 2006. The bad news was that kit would not be sent to the crime lab for testing for more than a decade. It became one of the 10,000 untested backlogged rape kits discovered in Washington state.

In 2015, following the discovery of the rape kit backlog, legislation from Democratic Rep. Tina Orwall was passed that mandated all police agencies submit old kits for testing. If not for that law, this 2006 case may never have been solved.

The Seattle Police Department submitted the 2006 rape kit to the crime lab for testing. In 2018, the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab informed SPD that it had tested the evidence collected from the girl’s underwear and matched that DNA to Robert Childs – the 30-year-old stranger who raped the young girl in that Seattle alley 12 years before, and who had an extensive criminal record dominated by sexual attacks, including sexually assaulting children.

Thousands of rape kits gathering dust will now get tested

“The defendant has a long history of committing sexual assault. The defendant has felony sex offense convictions for Rape in the Third Degree (2001), Child Molestation in the Third Degree (1996) and Rape in the Second Degree (1994),” according to court documents.

He also failed to register as a sex offender multiple times.

Childs was extradited from Florida to stand trial in King County, and was convicted of child rape by a jury.

Last Friday, a judge gave Childs the maximum sentence of life without the possibility of release.

The 12-year-old girl – now 27 – was in court virtually for that sentencing, with a victim advocate, in what one can only hope finally provided a sense of justice and closure.

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(Photo by Mat Hayward/Getty Images)...
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Child rapist lost in backlog gets max sentence nearly 20 years after Torchlight attack