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Pacifica man held for trial in rape case

by Seth Hemmelgarn

Joseph Paul Courtney. Photo: Courtesy Pacifica Police<br>Dept.
Joseph Paul Courtney. Photo: Courtesy Pacifica Police

A Pacifica man accused of drugging and raping more than a dozen other men has been ordered to stand trial.

If convicted, Joseph Paul Courtney, 32, who faces 59 felony counts, could spend the rest of his life in prison.

The youngest victim described by Pacifica Police Detective Steve Stump during Courtney's preliminary hearing Friday in San Mateo County Superior Court was an autistic 17-year-old who was 16 when he first met Courtney on the Grindr hook-up app.

The boy, known as John Doe 14, "presents as a 10-year-old," Stump said. The boy reported that during an encounter in Courtney's house, Courtney injected him with a substance that Stump described as heroin, and he also gave him GHB. The boy said he felt "high" and then "passed out," Stump testified.

The boy said that he and Courtney were alone at first, but as he went in and out of consciousness, there were "many people" in the room talking. After about six hours, Courtney drove him home.

John Doe 14 reported that he was in "a tremendous amount of pain," with "leakage from his anus, and lots of blood and semen," which continued for two days, Stump said. The boy said that Courtney had texted him that 25 people had been at Courtney's home, and he called the boy "the lucky one."

Stump testified that John Doe 3, 23, said that in September 2015 "several" people sexually assaulted him at Courtney's home. The incident began with John Doe 3 having consensual sex with Courtney, who gave him GHB that he "consumed over a span of several hours." He got sick and "lost consciousness" for about three hours.

When he woke up, he reported, his hands had been tied to the bed by neckties, "he was being sodomized" by someone he didn't know, and Courtney was forcing his penis into his mouth. He was also vomiting.

Then, Courtney had sex with John Doe 3 as he was forced to perform oral sex on the other man, Stump said.

When the other man left the house, Courtney allegedly said, "That was the easiest $100 I ever made."

Despite what had happened, the man stayed at the house, and soon after the incident, John Doe 3 and Courtney masturbated together, Stump said. The victim contacted police a few hours later.

Stump testified that the victim had said he had been awake when he was tied to the bed, and he'd engaged in consensual sex with Courtney before passing out.

John Doe 4, 23, reported that he saw people "possibly paying money" to Courtney "to engage in sex with John Doe 5," who had been homeless before he moved into Courtney's home, Stump said.

Courtney "frequently" gave John Doe 5 GHB, Stump said the man reported, and on one occasion, John Doe 5 saw video where he was unconscious and being sodomized "by numerous men." He also said that Courtney had forcibly sodomized him five times, Stump testified.

John Doe 8, 21, said that Courtney sexually assaulted him, Stump said, and although he accepted GHB once from Courtney, he didn't take much, because "he didn't want to be incapacitated" around Courtney.

The man, who reported that he'd seen Courtney using heroin and other drugs, said that he became HIV-positive after engaging in unprotected sex with Courtney, who was "insistent" on not using condoms.

"I can't say if he consented to unprotected sex," Stump said of John Doe 8.

When Steve Chase, Courtney's attorney, asked Stump, "Mr. Courtney didn't hold him down and make him have sex with him, did he?" Stump said that that was correct.

John Doe 11, 33, said that he'd seen Courtney giving people enough GHB to incapacitate them, and that he'd seen people pay Courtney so that they could have sex with people who were unconscious, according to Stump.

Stump said that Courtney himself had said that John Doe 11 had "warned him that if this behavior didn't change he'd be in the position that he's in today."

The criminal complaint against Courtney includes an allegation that he committed the alleged offenses knowing that he has AIDS.

Nine of the victims said they became HIV-positive after their contacts with Courtney, according to prosecutors. Stump said someone had told police that Courtney knew he was HIV-positive around 2007.

According to Chase, though, one of the men wasn't diagnosed until a year and a half after he'd been with Courtney.

Stump said that in Courtney's bedroom he'd recovered a flash drive with more than 700 photos of boys ages 9 to 12 engaging in oral copulation, anal sex, and masturbation. There were also 16 videos depicting children engaged in sex acts.

Authorities haven't provided descriptions of any of the other dozens of men who allegedly sexually assaulted Courtney's victims, and prosecutors didn't respond to an email asking whether they had the video footage or photos that reportedly showed such incidents.

Courtney remains in Redwood City's Maguire Correctional Facility on $10 million bail. His next court date is April 28 for arraignment. His charges include sodomy by use of force, sodomy by anesthesia or use of a controlled substance, sodomy of an unconscious victim, possession of child pornography, and second-degree robbery.

San Mateo County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Garratt oversaw Friday's hearing. Deputy District Attorney Joe Goethals is the prosecutor in the case.


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