Man sentenced to five years in prison for rape

Herman Rankin Jr. received the maximum term after pleading guilty to attacking a woman in July.

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WALLA WALLA -- A sex offender with a lengthy criminal history was sentenced Monday afternoon to five years in prison for raping a woman at his apartment on Ash Street in July.

Herman Rankin Jr., 50, was ordered to serve the maximum sentence allowed for third-degree rape. Rankin's criminal history includes nine prior offenses.

Walla Walla County Superior Court Judge Donald W. Schacht gave Rankin credit for the 144 days he'd already served in the County Jail and placed him on up to four years of community custody, a form of probation, when he's released from prison. Rankin will have to register as a sex offender.

Rankin pleaded guilty Oct. 27, admitting he had sexual intercourse with the victim without her consent.

Rankin reportedly had met her at another person's home July 28 and offered to let her stay at his apartment. After walking there sometime after 10 p.m., Rankin raped the woman twice at knifepoint, officials said. She told police she once tried to escape out the kitchen door, but Rankin kept her from leaving.

The following morning, he reportedly took her to pick up her backpack at a relative's home, but he didn't go inside. At the home, the woman phoned her mother, who picked her up and took her to Walla Walla General Hospital where police were notified about 7 a.m., officials said.

Rankin was arrested that afternoon at an apartment building on Catherine Street.

His previous convictions include burglary and theft in Mississippi, and rape in Louisiana, according to officials. He was released from prison in March this year after serving 28 years.

He initially was accused of first-degree rape in the Walla Walla County case, but the charge was reduced in exchange for his guilty plea. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern explained in an interview there were possible evidentiary problems with the case.

Rankin also was sentenced Monday to 14 months in prison for possessing marijuana Sept. 3 while being held in the County Jail. But that prison term will be served at the same time as the five-year sentence for rape.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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