Edmonds Man Pleads Guilty To Child Rape -- Faces Up To 30 Years In Prison

EVERETT - An Edmonds man pleaded guilty yesterday to charges of child rape, kidnapping and child molestation in 1993 and 1994 attacks on two Edmonds-area girls.

Joel Thomas Nichols, 29, faces up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to the charges in Snohomish County Superior Court. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 19.

Nichols pleaded guilty to first-degree child rape in an attack on an 11-year-old girl on Aug. 4, 1993. He raped the girl in an Edmonds-area home after telling her he was a telephone repairman, according to court papers.

He also pleaded guilty to first-degree child molestation and first-degree kidnapping in an Aug. 12, 1994, attack on a 9-year-old girl at Yost Park in Edmonds. He tried to drag her away, but three of her friends intervened, and he ran away.

"A dangerous individual has now been convicted, and thanks in part to the excellent work of the Edmonds Police Department," Deputy Prosecutor Paul Stern said.

Edmonds Police Chief Tom Miller said he wanted Nichols to go to prison for life, but would be satisfied with a 30-year sentence.

"At least him pleading guilty means the girls won't have to testify," Miller said. "They can put it behind them. Our department worked extremely hard on this case and everything came together well."

In the Yost Park attack, the 9-year-old's screams attracted the attention of sisters Natalie Wallace, now 11, and Leslie Wallace, now 13, of Edmonds, and their cousin, Katie Nelson, now 11, of Lynnwood.

They raced to her aid and pulled her away from Nichols, who claimed he was her father. He left after the girls said her mother was looking for her. The three surrounded the girl with their bicycles and walked her back to safety.

Their descriptions of the attacker eventually led to his arrest. Police matched Nichols' blood type to blood that fell on the 9-year-old girl's swimsuit after she scratched him.

All four girls were recently commended by Edmonds city officials for their bravery and courage.