Jury finds wife in polygamous relationship guilty of rape through coercion
Emily Ashcraft, KSL.com
WEST JORDAN, Utah — A jury on Friday found a Utah woman guilty of multiple counts of rape for encouraging and supporting her polygamous husband in raping a 17-year-old girl who was acting as his third wife.
Raven Blackwing, 29, was found guilty of four of the seven counts of rape, a first-degree felony, she faced in the bizarre case. She was found not guilty of three counts of forcible sexual abuse, a second-degree felony. One count of forcible sodomy, a first-degree felony, was dismissed before the end of the trial.
On a form associated with the verdict, the jury determined the victim did not give consent because she was coerced and because Raven Blackwing was in a position of special trust.
“Rape is a crime that shows many faces,” Salt Lake County deputy district attorney Samuel Sutton told jurors in his opening remarks.
Sutton told the jury the law recognizes that someone can be as guilty as the person committing an offense if they are party to the offense by providing aid or encouragement and having the same state of mind. He claimed that Raven Blackwing was not generally involved in the sexual acts, but that she helped her husband, Kain Blackwing, and encouraged the victim, including talking to her about how to please Kain Blackwing.
The teenager had moved into the Blackwing home with Raven Blackwing, Kain Blackwing and Raven’s sister, who was not married to Kain Blackwing but lived with them as a second wife, according to testimony at the trial. After moving in, the 17-year-old also lived as another wife.
The victim explained in her testimony to the jury that the women would call Kain Blackwing “my lord” and had rules in the household about what they could wear.
Defense attorney Rudy Bautista argued that the teenager had shown previously that she could get out of abusive and harmful relationships and that she consented to and participated in the sexual activity.
“They want us to believe that she was a frail little child when she was not,” Bautista said.
He said she only claimed to be a victim of rape after being incarcerated for her involvement in a bizarre home break-in and used the claim to prevent a heavier sentence for charges connected to that break-in.
“This is a person who is telling stories to get what she wants, and that is the best life possible for herself,” Bautista said.
The incident Bautista was referencing involved two women described as dressing like ninjas who broke into the West Jordan house where a 14-year-old girl was staying just four days before that young teen was scheduled to testify in court that Kain Blackwing had sexually abused her.
The two women — Raven Blackwing and the 17-year-old victim — wore all black clothing, including black masks and black latex gloves, and were armed with a variety of items including a stun gun, a knife, a large piece of Saran wrap, matches, a screwdriver, syringes, an arm tourniquet and formalin. The plan, allegedly created by Kain Blackwing, was to have the two women suffocate the 14-year-old girl with the plastic wrap and then make it look like the other two adults in the house died of a heroin overdose, according to charging documents.
The 17-year-old victim in her testimony said she went along with the plan because she looked at Kain Blackwing as a father figure, although she did see some red flags. After she moved in and realized she would be considered another wife, she said she had mixed emotions but at that point was already in the circle.
“You leave him, you die,” the victim said. “So yes, I stayed.”
She said multiple times that she had considered Raven Blackwing her best friend, both before and after she moved into the home.
The teen said she only left once, and she was arrested for trespassing, assault and breaking into a home.
She said at the trial that jail was the best thing that happened to her because it got her out of the home. The victim, who by the time of her arrest was an adult, pleaded guilty to a felony related to the West Jordan break-in with a provision that it would be reduced to a misdemeanor if she testified truthfully.
Kain Blackwing was charged in 2014 with forcible sexual abuse for abusing the 14-year-old girl. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to prison. He still has unresolved felony charges for solicitation of murder, conspiracy of murder, and attempted murder associated with him allegedly encouraging the West Jordan break-in that led to charges against his wife and the victim.