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Millionaire Cuts Plea Deal On Child Rape Charges

ABC News | March 17, 2005
By Tracy Vedder

KITSAP COUNTY - A Bainbridge Island millionaire is free after cutting a plea deal with prosecutors over child rape charges.

David Nusbaum walked out of jail a free man after spending less than a year behind bars.

In April of 2004, Nusbaum was charged with repeatedly raping and molesting a 13-year-old girl at his Bainbridge home. Detectives say the assaults began when the girl was just 6-years-old. She and her mother lived with Nusbaum for about nine years.

Prosecutors cut a deal Wednesday, dropping the charges to third-degree assault with sexual motivation and turning a potential 10-year sentence into just eleven months in jail.

"We are confident that he had inappropriate contact with that girl, that's what the charges reflect," said Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge, "but that's about all we can prove."

But several sources tell KOMO 4 News that's ridiculous. The rape case was set to start last Monday. The lead detective believes the case is solid.

"We had a very credible witness, or I should say victim," said Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Weiss, "there's also some scientific evidence probably admitted at trial that was going to be very damning on Mr. Nusbaum's part."

The victim, now 14, was ready and willing to testify. She'd even gotten familiar with the courtroom just last Friday. Last April the victim spoke to KOMO 4 News . She said talking about what happened helped her heal.

"It helped tremendously, it felt like a huge weight lifted off my shoulders that I'd been carrying around for seven years," she said.

Over the weekend the deputy prosecutor handling the case had a family emergency. In the space of just three days, the new deputy prosecutor decided to deal, saying a civil suit by the victim damaged the criminal case.

"The argument that the defense would make -- that this was all a fabrication just to get at him and his money -- looks pretty good," explained Hauge.

"What does money have to do with someone touching their child?" wondered the victim's mother. "Nothing."

Seeing him walk free Thursday, she believes prosecutors stole something precious from her daughter. "This is a child who is brave enough to talk, she should have a chance."

Although this case is virtually over, detectives are concerned that Nusbaum could still be a flight risk. That's because he still faces the possibility of charges in several other states and he's worth about $11 million.

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