A man awaiting trial for allegedly raping a teenager in a Philomath alleyway is now facing an assault charge for reportedly punching a fellow inmate.

Dominique Elliott Thornton, 28, is charged with fourth-degree assault for the incident at the Benton County Jail, which took place Nov. 8, according to documents filed in Benton County Circuit Court. Thornton has pleaded not guilty to the misdemeanor charge.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Thornton punched 40-year-old Alex Randolf White six or seven times. The fight began after Thornton changed the TV channel and the other inmate asked him to turn it back, the Sheriff’s Office reported.

Thornton has been in jail since Jan. 18, one day after a 17-year-old girl told police that Thornton, who is from Spring Valley, California, raped her. The alleged victim said Thornton invited himself to join her while she walked home from a friend’s house, according to a police affidavit. She told police Thornton grabbed her around the waist and forced her into an alleyway, where the crime allegedly occurred, the affidavit states.

She reported the incident to police the following afternoon, according to the affidavit. In a police interview, Thornton denied having sex with the girl, the affidavit states.

Thornton faces charges of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, first-degree unlawful sexual penetration, second-degree sexual abuse and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor. He has pleaded not guilty.

On Dec. 22, Thornton appeared in court for a bail reduction hearing. He had asked for the security in his case, which is set at $400,000, be reduced to $50,000. A judge denied the request.

Thornton’s jury trial has twice been delayed, most recently in November. Thornton had been appointed a new attorney, Clark Willes, in August and the lawyer requested more time to prepare. A judge reset Thornton’s trial for March 16.

Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or lillian.schrock@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock. 

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Public Safety Reporter

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