Wilberger suspect's former victims testify

Wilberger suspect's former victims testify

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — A judge heard testimony Monday from two women sexually assaulted 20 years apart by Joel Patrick Courtney, who is now charged with kidnapping, rape and aggravated murder in the 2004 disappearance of Brigham Young University student Brooke Wilberger.

Their testimony was part of efforts by Benton County prosecutors to persuade Circuit Judge Locke Williams to allow Courtney's previous convictions on sex abuse charges to be admitted as evidence at the murder trial, which is to begin in February.

Prosecutors in the Wilberger case are seeking the death penalty.

Wilberger, age 19 when she disappeared from outside a Corvallis apartment complex near Oregon State University, is assumed dead but her body has not been found.

Courtney pleaded guilty to kidnapping and criminal sexual penetration in a 2004 New Mexico case and was convicted of sex abuse in 1985 in a Washington County case.

During Monday's hearing, a 27-year-old former University of New Mexico student said Courtney approached her on a sidewalk near her Albuquerque home in November 2004 and forced her at knifepoint into his car, the Eugene Register-Guard reported.

She said he forced her to undress, covered her face with his coat, bound her feet and wrists and sexually assaulted her. She escaped from the car when he stopped near an intersection, the woman testified.

In the other case, a 43-year-old Portland woman told the judge that Courtney, then a high school acquaintance, attacked her in her car as she drove him home from a gathering with mutual friends in December 1984.

She said he began touching her against her wishes, she pulled over because he was interfering with her driving, and he hit her after she resisted him. The woman said Courtney pulled her out of her car and pulled her pants down.

The woman said she urged Courtney to drive her back to their friend's house.

"I tried to convince him that would be a better place to have sex because maybe I could go back to where some people were," the woman said.

She said she did not wish to have sex with Courtney, and later reported the attack to police. Courtney was convicted of sex abuse in 1985 as part of a plea deal.

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Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com