A 54-year-old former Seattle firefighter was sentenced last month to almost four years in prison for repeatedly raping a teen girl.
The victim in the case supported a plea deal that would have sentenced Michael James Sulak to a year in jail as part of a special sex offender sentencing alternative. The deal would have required him to be monitored and treated for sexual deviancy after his release. However, after police reports revealed that Sulak allegedly sexually assaulted another teen two decades earlier, the victim withdrew her support for the plea.
The most recent incident involved a 15 year old girl from Lynden, Wash. Sulak met the girl through a theater group and convinced her they were in love. Sulak, a husband and father, began having sex with the teen in autumn 2013. By Christmastime, she had run away from home to be with him. After four days she returned home and within a couple of months, told she her parents and police about Sulak.
After the case was reported in the media, a 32-year-old woman came forward to say Sulak had raped her in the late 1990s when she was 17 and he was a youth pastor.Under Washington law it could have been considered sexual misconduct with a minor, but the statute of limitations had passed by the time the woman had reported the incident and no charges were filed.
Last February, Sulak plead guilty to unlawful harboring of a minor and three counts of child rape in the third degree. Because the judge was not obligated to accept the plea deal, she sentenced Sulak to three years and 10 months in prison instead of the anticipated year in jail.
Under the Revised Code of Washington State, child rape in the third degree applies when the person has sexual intercourse with a teen who is at least 14 years old but less than 16 years old, is not married to the perpetrator, and the perpetrator is at least four years older than the victim. It is a Class C felony, punishable by up to five years in prison, or by a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
Child rape in the second degree applies when the person has sexual intercourse with a child who is at least 12 years old but less than 14 years old, is not married to the perpetrator, and the perpetrator is at least three years older than the victim. It is a Class A felony, punishable by up to life in prison, or by a fine of up to $50,000, or both.
Rape of a child in the first degree applies when the person has sexual intercourse with a child younger than 12 and who is not married to the perpetrator, and the perpetrator is at least two years older than the victim. It, too, is a Class A felony.