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Alleged repeat sex offender awaits sentencing

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | July 14, 2021 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT – A Bonner County man is awaiting sentencing in three separate sexual assault cases in First District Court.

Jacob Gunter, 29, could face life in prison for two counts of rape, and one count of lewd conduct from events in 2019 and 2020.

The first instance happened in September 2019. Gunter, 27 at the time, and his friend met up with the first victim at Roxy’s in Sandpoint.

The three left Roxy’s and went to the Ponderay Fairbridge Inn where they remained for the rest of the night. The victim decided to stay at the Fairbridge instead of risking going home intoxicated. She shared a bed with Gunter on the evening of the assault.

According to a probable cause affidavit, Gunter removed the victim’s clothes and assaulted her despite her efforts to resist. He repetitively told her during the assault that “it’s OK.

In an interview with a victim advocate coordinator, she said Gunter followed her into the bathroom afterward. He patted her on the back and said,

“That’s always been one of my fantasies, you’ll be fine.”

Ten months later, he allegedly assaulted the second victim after she, Gunter and two others met at A&P Bar on July 31, 2020. The four left together and went to Gunter’s house in Sagle to continue their evening.

They listened to music and danced on the porch that night. When the others left, Gunter and the victim continued to listen to music in the living room.

According to a probable cause affidavit, the victim said the next thing she remembers was coming to, face down on the mattress in a bedroom with Gunter assaulting her. He continued to hold her down despite asking him to stop multiple times.

In an interview with a victim advocate coordinator, the victim alleges Gunter began stalking her in the weeks following the assault. In the last stalking incident, 10 days before she went to law enforcement, Gunter yelled at her, called her an expletive and said she “deserved what she got.”

The victim didn’t tell anyone about the events until a month after the assault when she confided in a close friend, who happened to be the first victim. After saying she also had been assaulted, the first victim decided to press charges against Gunter.

Despite the cases being reported to law enforcement at the end of August, criminal complaints were not filed for four months, until January 2021.

Gunter allegedly assaulted a third victim in that time.

Bonner County Sheriff’s Deputies were called to the residence by the victim’s mother. She told deputies that her daughter was violently molested by Gunter.

According to court documents, the victim said they were hanging out in the living room when he assaulted her.

During the assault, Gunter asked the victim two times if she wanted to “keep going.” Instead of responding, she ran to the bathroom, locked the door, and screamed for help.

While Sheriff’s deputies were on their way to the residence, they found Gunter walking on a dirt road away from the house, where he was retained by deputies.

Gunter has lengthy criminal record in Idaho dating back to 2006, with charges including petit theft, providing false identification to officers, probation violation, threatening violence, endangering a child, and others.

On Monday, Gunter will stand trial in front of a jury for the 2019 incident involving the first victim A second trial is set for August 16, for the events in July 2020 involving the second victim.

A jury trial was already held in June for the lewd conduct case for the third victim. Sentencing in that case is pending, awaiting the outcomes of the other two cases.

One in three Idaho women experience some form of sexual assault, according to the Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. There are no requirements that need to be met in order to report sexual assault. Sexual offense crimes can be reported in Idaho up to five years after the incident happens. More resources and information can be found by visiting idvsa.org, or calling the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-646-HOPE (4673).