Man faces five years after guilty plea in rape case

Herman Rankin Jr., who had been released from prison in March after 28 years behind bars, attacked a woman in his apartment in March.

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WALLA WALLA -- A sex offender with a lengthy criminal history pleaded guilty this morning in Superior Court to raping a woman at his apartment on Ash Street in July.

Herman Rankin Jr., 50, entered the guilty plea to a charge of third-degree rape, admitting he had sexual intercourse with the woman without her consent. He initially was accused of first-degree rape, which 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.

Because of Rankin's criminal record -- which consists of nine prior offenses -- he faces five years in prison, the maximum sentence allowed for the crime under state law. Judge Donald W. Schacht will impose sentence after a presentence investigation is completed.

The case stems from a report that Rankin met the woman 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.

In an unrelated case, Rankin is accused of possessing marijuana Sept. 3 while being held in the Walla Walla County Jail.

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

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