BEND, Ore. - A Bend judge Monday afternoon found former COCC instructor Thomas Bray guilty of raping one of two alleged victims, but cleared him on charges involving the other accuser.
"There's a big difference between believing, and proving beyond a reasonable doubt," District Attorney Patrick Flaherty said later, referring to the case Bray was acquitted in.
Circuit Judge Stephen Tiktin, who heard the case after Bray waived his right to a jury trial, read his verdict in court after about a two-week trial.
Tiktin complimented both the prosecution and Bray's defense team before giving his reasoning for his verdicts. After sitting silent for much of Bray's trial, Tiktin he gave lengthy, detailed accounts of why he ruled the way he did.
Bray, facing a total of 11 charges, was found guilty on all six counts of rape, sodomy, strangulation and assault involving a woman he met on Match.com in February of last year, but not guilty on the five counts involving an ex-student he briefly dated while teaching at COCC.
"We're grateful, happy and relieved," Flaherty said of the guilty verdicts. "Justice is done."
Tiktin said the evidence was just not there to convict Bray of strangling and raping the ex-student.
"She's give a number of versions herself of what happened that night," Tiktin said.
Tiktin also said text messages between the two proved the woman wanted to continue a relationship with Bray, even after he told her he wanted out.
"The texts are a real piece of work, in a lot of ways," Tiktin said, adding. "Jealousy is a possible motive for fabrication or embellishment."
The judge ruled completely the opposite in the case against Bray involving a woman he met on Match.com. Discounting the defense's claim the woman was after Bray's money, Tiktin told the courtroom, "There is absolutely no chance she fabricated it for financial gain."
Tiktin says the woman's story was consistent, and her injuries corroborated her account of the attack.
"Bottom line is, the injuries were consistent with strangulation and rape," said Tiktin.
"She possessed excellent observation of detail skills and reporting skills," the judge added. "All of her reports of feelings and sensations appear as truth, not fabrication."
"She was shaking when she recounted details of the rape," Tiktin said.
"Unique details landed credibility to the whole story," he said. "I would find it difficult to fabricate 'The defendant was eating cereal after the rape.'"
Tiktin also says Bray incriminated himself on Feb. 26, 2011, the day after he raped the woman from Match.com. Tiktin said Bray came very close to an admission or confession when he texted the other woman in the case, saying he thought he was going to be arrested for rape because he had rough sex with a woman and didn't wear a condom.
Tiktin also noted Bray cut his anatomy class at COCC early on Feb. 26th, before he'd even been told the police were looking for him. Bray also Googled "rape kit" before he received an e-mail from a student, saying the police had stopped by the school asking to see him.
Outside the courtroom, Flaherty addressed why it took nearly a year and a half for Bray to go to trial: "Unlike a typical rape case, Bray was able to post an extremely high security amount, which had a lot to do with the delay."
"He's a violent predator," Flaherty said. "He's sophisticated and educated. He's had a match.com account for 12 years. It's scary."
As the verdict was read, Bray leaned back in his chair and looked around before being put in handcuffs by sheriff's deputies and led out of the courtroom.
Tiktin revoked Bray's release and ordered him held without bail pending sentencing on August 7th. Much as he did before and during the trial, Bray's attorney, Stephen Houze, pressed after the verdict for computer evidence that he likely would use in any appeal.
Measure 11 mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines potentially could put Bray behind bars for 33 years and four months for the sex abuse charges. On top of that, the 38-year-old faces more prison time for the assault and strangulation charges he's now convicted of.
"I believe he is an extremely dangerous sociopath," Flaherty said of Bray. "I hope he gets the maximum sentence and never gets out of prison."