July 1, 2016

Intermittent clouds

Family, friends defend man against rape accusations at trial

Patrick Shank

Patrick Shank

The wife and two children of a former Montville Township man accused of raping the family’s babysitter testified in his defense Wednesday.

Patrick Shank, 47, is charged with 12 counts of rape, first-degree felonies each punishable by up to 11 years in prison. He now is serving six years in prison on a 2012 conviction of sexual battery and unlawful sexual conduct with a York Township teenager.

In this week’s trial, which began Monday, Shank is accused of raping a Montville Township girl from 2003 to 2005, when she was 13 to 15 years old.

On Wednesday, Shank’s wife, Darla, was the first witness defense attorneys called to the stand.

The mother of three disputed the testimony of the woman her husband is accused of raping, who now is 24 years old.

The woman testified that she started babysitting the Shank children in 2002 and said Shank got her drunk at a birthday party in 2003 and raped her for the first time in an in-house recording studio.

The wife said the woman never was the family’s babysitter and the house didn’t have a recording studio in 2003.

“We remodeled the house and turned the laundry room into a recording studio in approximately 2006,” Darla Shank testified.

She also said the woman couldn’t have been raped at her home because the woman said Patrick Shank opened a garage door to get inside.

“If you’re sleeping, does that garage door wake you up?” defense attorney Elizabeth Kelley asked.

“Yes,” she said, adding that she was a light sleeper and the garage door was very loud in the master bedroom.

During cross-examination, county Assistant Prosecutor Scott Salisbury asked Darla Shank why the woman would lie about being raped.

“Does she have any reason or vendetta against your husband?” he asked.

“Yes, she does,” Darla Shank said. “She made passes at Pat.”

“So you’re saying that she made up these allegations of 100 rapes because she made a pass at your husband and he turned her down?”

“It was more than one pass,” she said. While she said she never saw the woman try to seduce her husband, she heard about it through other people.

Salisbury noted that during her husband’s October 2012 trial, Darla Shank said the recording studio wasn’t installed until 2009 — a year after the sexual assault in that case.

Darla Shank also was contradicted by a defense witness, a former member of Shank’s band, Brian Klupp, who testified later Wednesday that the recording studio was in the house in 2003.

Darla Shank also testified that she was surprised by the woman’s allegations because she had come to her home during her husband’s 2012 trial and offered support.

Patrick Shank’s daughter, Sarah Shank, 21, also testified Wednesday that the woman had come to the Shank house that week.

“She came over a few times during the trial,” Sarah Shank said.

Sarah Shank also disputed the woman’s Monday testimony that she often would go to see Shank practice with his band in his garage, where she was provided alcohol.

The daughter said children weren’t allowed at the band practices.

But Klupp, Shank’s former bandmate, testified that the woman and other children were allowed to watch the band practice.

Sarah Shank’s half-brother, Joshua Sullins, corroborated Klupp’s testimony. He said she would watch the band practice regularly and other teenagers would watch, too.

But Sullins, 21, said his father didn’t want his children associating with the woman who now is accusing him of rape.

“He told me to stay away from her because she was a bad influence and did drugs — specifically marijuana,” Sullins said.

Under cross-examination, Sullins admitted he has smoked marijuana and has stolen alcohol from his father.

All three family members said Patrick Shank never condoned underage drinking or provided alcohol to minors.

During cross-examination, Darla Shank acknowledged Sullins’ 1993 birth was the result of an affair between Shank and a 17 year old who would watch the band practice.

Darla Shank said she didn’t believe that Sullins, who visited on weekends and moved in with her family in 2008, was her husband’s son until a DNA test confirmed it.

The prosecutor suggested Darla Shank was refusing to recognize the evidence of her husband’s guilt.

“Despite all this evidence to the contrary, much like how you felt about your husband’s girlfriend, you’re in denial,” he said.

Three friends of Shank also testified Wednesday: Lorie Jackson, Amy Coe and her brother, Nelson Coe.

Jackson testified that she overheard the alleged rape victim woman ask Shank to kill her boyfriend in October 2010.

Jackson said she hoped to sell a handgun to Shank to buy a plane ticket to Arizona to visit her mother, who had suffered a stroke.

When she arrived at the house, she said the woman was asking Shank to “take care of” and “get rid of” her boyfriend.

While inspecting guns in Shank’s house, Jackson said the woman approached.

“She peeked over my left shoulder and she said, ‘Yeah, that’ll do it,’ ”  Jackson testified.

“This struck you as not joking?” asked Common Pleas Judge James Kimbler, who will render the verdict because Shank chose not to be tried by a jury.

“Right,” Jackson said. “She never said ‘kill,’ but she insinuated it.”

The Coes said Shank was a good man who would never rape anyone.

Shank’s trial will continue today at 1:30 p.m.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com. Follow him on Twitter @ngfalcon.

Nick Glunt About Nick Glunt

Nick Glunt primarily covers courts and crime in Medina County. He served The Gazette from September 2012 to December 2015. Contact him at (330) 721-4048 or via email at nglunt@medina-gazette.com.