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Victim of alleged rapist says he'll do it again if let out of jail

Jesse Paskey

MOORHEAD - The victim in a case involving a Moorhead man who is charged with tying her up, raping her repeatedly and holding a knife to her throat - all while she was about seven months pregnant - is worried he will get out and do it again.

"Even knowing he's in jail, it's hard to sleep at night," said the victim, whose name is being withheld. The Forum does not identify victims in sex crimes without their permission.

The case against her alleged rapist, Jesse Lee Paskey, 29, is set for trial on March 5.

The incident took place on Dec. 23 in Moorhead. Paskey was charged the next day with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, kidnapping, and second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon. All are felonies.

But as the victim points out, Paskey has faced similar charges in the past, and was out on probation related to a prior case the night he allegedly attacked her in his home.

The prior case from September 2011, which also happened in Moorhead, involved similar circumstances. Paskey was charged with strangling a woman with his arm while raping her when she came home with him after meeting him in a bar.

At the time, Paskey was already required to register as a predatory offender by the state of Minnesota after he pleaded guilty in 2010 to a felony charge of false imprisonment of a woman.

In the 2011 case, Paskey pleaded guilty to a charge of gross misdemeanor criminal sexual conduct in a plea deal struck with prosecutors on the morning of the second day of his trial. Prosecutors said at the time they didn't want to risk an acquittal, based on first-day testimony from the victim.

He was sentenced to time served and two years of probation.

The current victim, who is due to give birth in mid-March, said she is prepared to testify against Paskey. She's aware the jury could include some members who would view her with mistrust because she went to Paskey's home to perform as an exotic dancer and masseuse when she was attacked, two days before Christmas.

"I had quit [dancing] when I found out I was pregnant," the victim said. "I didn't think it [going to Paskey's home] was a good idea," but the holidays were coming up, and her fiancé has two children. "We wanted to get them gaming sets."

And the money, on a good night, could be good, she said. She decided to do it just a few more times.

She got to Paskey's apartment at 1119 19th St. S. Moorhead about 1 a.m. After some small talk, she said she asked Paskey what he had in mind. He asked for sex. She refused, saying she didn't do that.

Then Paskey blocked her from the door - and, turning her around, put his arm across her neck.

The victim admits her memory is jumbled because she lost oxygen from being choked several times that night. In that time, court documents state she reported he tied her wrists and ankles together, and raped her three times during the course of the night.

She said she begged Paskey, crying, to untie her hands and let her put them in front of her, "because it hurt so bad." That's when he put the knife to her throat, telling her if she didn't cooperate, he would kill her.

She said she managed to wriggle a foot free from the necktie around her ankle, and then waited until Paskey fell asleep. She worked loose from her bonds, grabbed her clothes and ran to a neighbor's.

Court documents state when police arrived, the victim still had neckties around her wrist and ankle. When officers arrested Paskey, court documents state he told them, "I have no remorse," and swore at them.

Paskey couldn't be reached for comment.

Neither Clay County prosecutors nor Paskey's defense attorney would comment on the case, citing its pending nature.

The victim is counting the days to Paskey's trial and her daughter's impending birth.

She said it hasn't been easy dealing with the worry over what could happen in the trial.

"If he gets out, he's just going to do it again," she said. Still, she said focusing on her pregnancy has helped her get through the last few months - even when the thoughts threaten to overwhelm her.