Portland man in court on suspicion of attempted rape

A 40-year-old Portland man is being held on accusations he attempted to rape and strangled to unconsciousness a 31-year-old woman in northeast Hazel Dell after giving her a ride home Thursday evening.

Joshua T. McKnight, 40, appeared today in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree robbery with sexual motive, first-degree attempted rape and second-degree assault.

“This is a stranger assault,” Deputy Prosecutor Dan Gasperino told Judge John Nichols. “Allegedly, he strangled the victim to unconsciousness, enough that she urinated. Luckily, she was able to escape and pound on a neighbor’s door.”

“I don’t know her; I just gave her a ride,” McKnight blurted out. Nichols advised him to be silent.

The judge set bail at the prosecutor’s requested $200,000. Gasperino said McKnight has a violent criminal history, and the fact that the alleged attempted rape happened between strangers presents a community safety concern.

This is what allegedly happened, according to court documents:

McKnight gave the victim a ride home Thursday evening. As thanks, she offered to make him dinner inside her home.

After about 45 minutes of conversation, he allegedly attempted to kiss her. She refused, but he allegedly persisted in his attempt to kiss her. After she repeatedly denied him, his behavior allegedly became more violent. He is accused of then trying strangle her. She lost consciousness and released her bladder. When she awoke, he allegedly was standing over her. He is accused of throwing her on the bed and trying to rape her. She kicked him in the face and head to defend herself. He then allegedly tried to strangle her again. Eventually, she was able to break free and knock on a neighbor’s door for help. She had scratches, abrasions and contusions on her face, neck, hands and knees and was only wearing a shirt when the neighbor opened the door.

The neighbor called 911 at 8:12 p.m. Thursday to report a black male adult had just attempted to rape the woman and left in a white Jeep-like vehicle, Clark County sheriff’s Sgt. Duncan Hoss said.

Deputies stopped the vehicle at Alki Road and Northeast Hazel Dell Avenue, where the driver became confrontational with deputies, Hoss said.

“He got out and advanced toward deputies. He wouldn’t follow directions,” he said.

Deputies used a Taser to subdue the man and took him to the hospital before booking him in the Clark County Jail.

In addition to the accusations of attempted rape and assault, there also were items allegedly missing from the house, accounting for the first-degree robbery allegation, according to the sheriff’s department.

McKnight has faced charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault in 1996 in Tennessee, resisting arrest with violence in 1991 in Florida, possession of stolen property and criminal impersonation in 1991 in New York and obstructing in 2012 in Nevada.