Hazel Dell 1980s rapist gets 5 life sentences

Clark County

David Jay Sterling is 74


The Clark County Courthouse in Vancouver, Washington (KOIN, file)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (AP) — A convicted rapist who terrorized the southwest Washington community of Hazel Dell in the summer of 1982 has been ordered to serve out five life sentences.

The Columbian reports that Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark on Thursday imposed the suspended life sentences for 74-year-old David Jay Sterling.

The sentences were originally handed down in October 1982 after Sterling pleaded guilty to four counts of first-degree rape and one count of first-degree assault stemming from a series of rapes and assaults in Hazel Dell.

But after Sterling was convicted, he was sent to a sexual psychopath treatment program and his prison time was suspended, according to Senior Deputy Prosecutor James Smith.

Sterling escaped from the hospital in 1985. He was arrested a year later in Louisiana. For the last three decades, he had been in federal custody for a series of robberies.

The purpose of Thursday’s hearing was to revoke the alternative punishment in the rape case and impose the five life sentences.

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