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Watertown sex offender indicted
Mar 21, 2006 12:00 am
March 16, 2006
A grand jury has indicted a Watertown resident on multiple counts of aggravated sexual battery after authorities learned he was allegedly sexually assaulting blind classmates of his own adopted teenage daughter, who is also blind, at the family home.
Wayne Roger Rasmussen, 69, of 939 Statesville Road in Watertown, was arrested late Tuesday night by sheriff's deputies who charged him with four counts of aggravated sexual battery and two counts of sexual battery.
He was released Wednesday afternoon from the Wilson County Jail after posting a $50,000 bond and will be arraigned in criminal court March 30.
After months of investigation, authorities learned Rasmussen had allegedly molested at least three of his youngest daughters' classmates when they would visit the home.
Rasmussen's daughter, who is believed to be 14, is a student at the Tennessee School for the Blind in Donelson.
"The fact that he has a blind child just sickens me," said Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, whose department led the investigation.
Not only that, an Internet search showed Wayne Rasmussen listed as the president of the Tennessee Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired.
A spokesman for the National Association for Parents of the Visually Impaired could only confirm Rasmussen was one of two parents listed as Tennessee contacts, and the Tennessee chapter had not paid any dues in "at least three years."
Rasmussen has been living in Wilson County since 2001. He and his wife have five children, ages 49 to 14.
Prior to his arrival in Tennessee, Rasmussen was a resident of Riverside, Calif., where he was an attorney. He was disbarred after he was convicted in 1999 on sexual battery of a minor.
Ashe said his parole term from the conviction ended last month.
And although he has been a Tennessee resident for more than four years, Rasmussen never registered with the TBI as a sex offender, as required by law.
Ashe said the investigation began in December after a student at the school first contacted authorities to complain about Rasmussen.
"It was a tough, long case to work," Ashe said, due in large part to the fact detectives had to earn a special level of trust with the victims, all of whom were blind.
"These were some of the bravest little victims we've ever had a chance to encounter," the sheriff said. "It's hard for a blind victim to sit down and talk to you. You can't see. You don't know who to trust."
Establishing trust was one of the primary ways Rasmussen was able to dupe his victims as well as the school and community of parents, Ashe said.
The sheriff said he could not explain the nature of the charges in detail, but said Rasmussen used multiple methods to be alone with the victims in and around the home.
"I just can't imagine the vulnerability that these young women felt," Ashe said. "No one saw him. It was his word against theirs."
Authorities have identified three victims – none of whom live in Wilson County – but Ashe said they have reason to believe there is a fourth and possibly fifth victim, as well.
"We're working with Davidson County on a possible charge there," Ashe said. "And now that some of these students have found out that they can have the confidence in somebody that's going to do what they said they were going to do, there may be other people coming forward. We kind of expect that."
Ashe credited the school, students and parents with spearheading the investigation.
"This is a great school," the sheriff said. "It would be so easy for some institutions to stick their head in the sand, but not this institution. I can't give them enough accolades about their support of our investigation, their support of their students and their patience."
Officials at the school deferred all comments to the Department of Education.
"The department and the school is deeply saddened over the events that have taken place," said Rachel Woods, the Department of Education's communications director. "Unfortunately, many people who pray on other individuals feel that if a group has disabilities it makes them more likely to be prayed upon. Fortunately, though, here in Tennessee, this hasn't been the case in our special schools. This is a rare incident."
Ashe went on to describe Rasmussen as "the worst kind of predator."
"That's why this CATS (Compliance Accountability Tracking and Surveillance) program (designed to track sex offenders) is so important," he said. "We've got to focus on these predators."
Additional grand jury indictments against Rasmussen may come down in the future, the sheriff indicated.
"We're going to continue to investigate this, and learn more about his conduct there, and who is victims are," Ashe said. "We could have waited another month or two, but the chances of there being another victim weren't worth the risk."
Staff Writer Jared Allen can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 15 or by e-mail at email@example.com.