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Press Release

Rainier Man Charged with Kidnapping Ex-Girlfriend

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Oregon

PORTLAND, Ore.—U.S. Attorney Billy J. Williams announced today that a Rainier, Oregon man has been charged with kidnapping his ex-girlfriend and transporting her from her home in Ilwalco, Washington to Rainier.

James Donald Cooley, 59, has been charged by criminal complaint with one count of kidnapping.

According to court documents, in the early morning hours of May 18, 2020, Cooley is alleged to have traveled from his home in Rainier to his ex-girlfriend’s home in Ilwalco without notice or invitation. He parked his vehicle on the side of Highway 101 near her home. Cooley approached his ex-girlfriend and a confrontation ensued. He grabbed her by her arms, tied her hands together with zip ties, and began pulling her toward the highway. Cooley drug his ex-girlfriend a couple hundred feet to his vehicle, put a knife to her throat, shoved her into the backseat, and began driving back to Rainier.

When Cooley arrived at his residence, his sister, who also lives in Rainier, spotted Cooley’s ex-girlfriend at his residence. Cooley’s sister confronted them and the ex-girlfriend told her that Cooley was going to kill her. Cooley’s sister contacted the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and reported the incident. Sheriff deputies responded and later arrested Cooley.

Cooley made his initial appearance in federal court today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie F. Beckerman. He was ordered detained pending further proceedings.

This case was investigated by the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the FBI. It is being prosecuted by Gregory R. Nyhus, Assistant U.S. Attorneys for the District of Oregon.

A criminal complaint is only an accusation of a crime, and a defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

Domestic violence is a serious violent crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse. It is frequently hidden from public view. Many survivors suffer in silence, afraid to seek help or not knowing where to turn. The traumatic effects of domestic violence also extend beyond the abused person, impacting family members and communities.

If you or someone you know are in immediate danger, please call 911.

If you need assistance or know someone who needs help, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). Many communities throughout the country have developed support networks to assist survivors in the process of recovery.

Updated June 19, 2020