One suspected crime just turned into two when an accused rapist was found near death in his jail cell on Sunday evening after attempting a drastic way out of his situation. The suspect, Dr. Dean Funabiki, 67, was once a respected therapist in Pullman, Washington.
His reputation took a negative hit when he was recently accused of raping a client. While an investigation will continue to determine if he committed the alleged crimes, his death is the latest uncertainty in the case.
Dr. Funabiki’s accuser, “a female patient” around age 40 came forward to the Pullman Police Department last month claiming that the therapist “sexually assaulted her” while she was in his office for an appointment.
After undergoing a rape kit examination, authorities were able to collect DNA evidence which confirmed her story, as Funabiki’s DNA was found on the victim’s body, according to the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab.
After being linked to the crime, Funabiki self-surrendered to the Pullman Police Department on Friday at about 10:30 P.M. last week. He was arrested on second-degree rape charges and detained at the Whitman County Jail.
Funabiki had only been in jail for two days and was awaiting a court appearance on Monday when a corrections officer discovered him in his cell, “unresponsive…hanging from the bed” by a sheet which he had made into a noose.
He was taken immediately to Whitman Medical Center and died shortly after. The exact cause of death has yet to be released.
Sheriff Brett J. Myers of the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office reported that the police force is working alongside the Whitman County Coroner’s Officer in the investigation surrounding the death, which has been said to be “an apparent suicide.”
There could be more to the case than just a suicide, as Funabiki was being held with the jail’s general population, indicating he was able to contact other inmates. However, it is being suspected that he “was alone in his cell at the time of the incident.”
Sheriff Meyers reported that Funabiki had not exhibited any behavior indicating he would harm himself and “was not on suicide watch.”
Suicide is not a primary concern at the Whitman County Jail, as the last reported incident of such occurred about ten years ago.
There is much speculation to be made in this case as questions arise. Regarding Funabiki’s therapy career, he appeared to be a respected professional in Pullman, as he had his own practice, Dean Funabiki Ph.D. and Associates P.S., established in 1981. Prior to that, he had worked at other Washington practices beginning in 1978.
He currently does not have any other sexual assault charges against him, which could change shortly when other patients learn of the news. However, if this was his first offense, it is unclear why he would start now, being a licensed professional for four decades.
Funabiki’s website for his medical practice appears to have recently been taken down, with the only information on it being the address and phone number to the business, along with a message which reads, “This website is currently down for maintenance.”
The rape and suicide connection is detrimental to the justice system, as Funabiki did not have his day in court. Arguably, it is almost certain that he did sexually assault his patient, as the accuser claims, however, there could have been additional details worth hearing.
However, even if, for some reason, the woman played a part in the assault, it would have in no way excused Funabiki of his offenses. Sexual assault from a healthcare professional in a clinical setting is grounds for a Class A felony.
If he was guilty, the alleged victim likely feels that justice was not served in that Funabiki’s death spared him from the stress and humiliation of a rape trial, which she may still have to testify at.
Funabiki apparently sought an easy way out of the situation he had found himself in, as he will not have to carry out an incarceration sentence, which could have been life in prison.
This case is an unfortunate example of crimes being committed in jails and prisons despite tight security measures.
Corrections officers have demanding and dangerous jobs already, however, this incident may make them even more challenging if instructed to check on inmates more frequently to prevent them from harming themselves.
The current policy at Whitman County Jail to ensure order is to verify inmates are safe and accounted for every hour throughout the evening, a standard jail practice.
Jail and prison inmates often find themselves in seemingly hopeless situations which may make suicide seem like an appealing option. While that is a devastating decision to come to, Funabiki proved that it is possible to carry out, even in jail, as he was able to just days into his incarceration time.