Humboldt County Office of the District Attorney release:
Humboldt County District Attorney Maggie Fleming announced that today a jury found 38-year-old Gabriel Lee Owen of Rio Dell guilty of one count of sodomy by force, two counts of sexual penetration by force, one count of sexual battery, four counts of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, and one count of possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.
The charges stemmed from sexual assaults by Owen in November 2015 (on a woman identified as Jane Doe #1) and May 2018 (on a woman identified as Jane Doe #2). Law enforcement became aware of the case when Jane Doe #2 reported Owen to the Rio Dell Police Department (RDPD). RDPD arrested the defendant in May 2018; he has been in custody since then.
After Owen’s arrest and confinement, Jane Doe #1 came forward to report that she too had been sexually assaulted by him. During the trial, she testified that she was so terrified of the defendant that she could not come forward until she learned that he had been arrested and had assaulted someone else.
The courage of Jane Doe #1 and Jane Doe #2 allowed prosecution of this case. Officer Evie Valk and Sgt. John Beauchaine of RDPD and Detective Luke Scown (Arcata Police Department) effectively handled the case and provided critical testimony at trial. Deputy District Attorney Roger Rees prosecuted the case with assistance from District Attorney (DA) Investigator Martin Morris and DA Victim Witness Advocate Caitlyn LaHaie. Deputy Conflict Counsel Owen Tipps represented Owen. Judge Christopher Wilson presided over the two-week jury trial (lengthened by power outages). The District Attorney’s Office appreciates the time, attention and effort of the jury.
Owen is scheduled to be sentenced on December 2, 2019. He faces up to 29 years 8 months in prison and would be required to serve at least 85% of that sentence. He is being held without bail pending sentencing.