LOCAL NEWS

Rape victim calls her attacker’s plea deal a ‘slap on the wrist’

Dec 20, 2022, 5:48 AM | Updated: 6:42 am
Photo from KIRO 7

A Kitsap County rape victim says her attacker agreed to a plea deal that is “just a slap on the wrist.”

Stephen Tyler Clayton pleaded guilty Monday to raping three women. But the plea combined the three charges into just one count of rape and calls for Clayton to serve 12 to 14 months in prison.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

The victim says she still thinks she did the right thing by coming forward. That is the message she has for other victims of rape.

It is a message she hopes the Kitsap County court system hears, too.

“He threatened me,” said Alissa Drowns. “He said that if anyone came after him, he had guns and he wasn’t afraid to use them. He said if I told anyone, would blame it on me.”

So, Drowns kept the rape a secret for four long years, all while trying to protect those who were close.

“I didn’t want to lose my family,” she said.

After all, Clayton was family, married to her stepdaughter.

But another woman came forward with a story similar to her own rape, so Drowns filed a complaint, too. Then a third woman said Clayton had raped her, too.

Clayton was then charged with three counts of rape. But the Kitsap County prosecuting attorney told a judge she did not believe she could prove the allegations, and that she worried about the mental stability of the victims.

“And what I wanted to say is, mental health issues and substance abuse disorders are a reaction, a natural reaction to rape,” said Clayton.

The judge agreed to the guilty plea comprising just one count of rape, meaning Clayton could serve just one year behind bars.

“And if he’s sentenced and he gets a slap on the wrist like he’s getting,” she said, “then other judges and other lawyers all over the country will be watching and say, ‘Oh, maybe we can use that as an excuse, too.’”

Still, she says she doesn’t want her case to discourage other victims.

“Maybe they’ll remember, ‘I remember when Mrs. Drowns fought to get her voice heard and I could do the same thing she did,’” she said. “So, that’s really why I’m doing this.”

Clayton will be sentenced here Jan. 23. As is the case in plea deals, the judge does not have to accept the sentence.

As for Drowns, the North Kitsap School District teacher says her worst fear did come true.

She and her husband divorced last August.

Follow this link to read additional stories from KIRO

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Rape victim calls her attacker’s plea deal a ‘slap on the wrist’