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Delay Granted for Rape Suspect

November 21, 2002|Jose Cardenas | Times Staff Writer

The arraignment for Mark Wayne Rathbun, suspected by police of being the Belmont Shore serial rapist, was postponed Wednesday until Dec. 4.

The 32-year-old Rathbun, wearing an orange jail uniform, looked at the floor during the short proceeding.

He softly answered, "Yes, your honor," when he was asked if he agreed to give up his right to a speedy trial. Bail had been set at $11 million for Rathbun last week, but Long Beach Superior Court Judge Patrick Madden on Wednesday ordered him held without bail.

During the proceeding, Madden allowed a television cameraman and newspaper photographer into the courtroom but refused to let them take Rathbun's picture.

The ban was justified, Madden said, because witness identification of Rathbun could be an issue during the trial.

Rathbun has been charged with 64 counts of burglary and sexual assault. The attacks -- many of which occurred in the Belmont Shore area of Long Beach -- go as far back as 1996.

Defense attorney Kenneth McDonald requested the arraignment delay. "The people have had five years," he said outside the courtroom. "We have had five days."

Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Goul said he would not agree to a delay beyond Dec. 4. He said some of the victims are elderly and they want to see the case go forward soon.

McDonald noted outside the courtroom that police had mistakenly accused another man of attacks tied to the Belmont Shore rapist.

A federal jury awarded $1.7 million to Jeff Grant, a Long Beach city employee, who was wrongly arrested in 1998. The city is appealing that verdict.

"This is not the first person who has been arrested," McDonald said. "I think everyone has to keep an open mind."

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