Geocaching amateur finds more than she bargained for
By Linda Bentley | September 10, 2008
Treasure seeker urges caution in dealing with strangers on the internet
CAVE CREEK – Geocaching, considered a high-tech global scavenger hunt and great family fun, is an activity where people can either hide or search for hidden caches of treasures at various sites by registering on www.geocaching.com and providing the longitude and latitude coordinates of where they’ve hidden a cache or where they would like to search for one.
There’s a forum on the website where registered users can communicate with one another.
One amateur geocacher from Cave Creek, who asked not to be identified, began communicating with another seemingly more adept geocacher using the moniker srladybug, who subsequently extended an invitation to meet in person.
After learning srladybug’s real name, Richard Dasen, and before blindly going off to meet a stranger, the amateur “Googled” Dasen, only to find he is convicted felon from Kalispell, Montana who paid dozens of young women, many of whom were methamphetamine addicts, an estimated $3 million to have sex.
News stories stated Dasen, now 66, was a well-respected, prominent Flathead Valley businessman and philanthropist until he was arrested in 2004 in his underwear in a motel room accompanied by a half-clad woman who was behind in payments to Dasen’s finance company.
After he was arrested, Dasen, married with grown children and grandchildren, told police he paid over $1 million for countless young women to have sex with him.
Dasen also said he lost count of how much he paid them.
However, since Dasen paid them by check, when investigators reviewed the transactions they found Dasen paid women $1,000 to $6,000 per encounter and up to $130,000 per month to some.
Kalispell City Attorney Charles Harball was quoted in an Aug. 15, 2004 Washington Post article as saying, “He pretty much single-handedly funded the methamphetamine trade here in Kalispell for a number of years.”
Harball noted, since Dasen’s arrest, money flowing to local meth users seemed to have dried up and Kalispell was experiencing a “flood of petty crime from addicts seeking cash for their habit.”
As the court-appointed conservator of a $500,000 award in a product-liability settlement for the long-term care of a severely brain-damaged child, Dasen used those funds along with funds from a variety of other sources to pay for sex.
The state crime lab linked Dasen’s DNA to a semen-stained bedspread in Room 233 of the Kalispell Motel 6 where 26-year-old Darlene Wilcock was found strangled a year earlier.
The autopsy report revealed semen was found on her body, but not Dasen’s and, although the killer had not been caught, investigators considered finding Dasen’s DNA likely a coincidence, since he had frequent sex at the Motel 6 and bedspreads are seldom washed.
Dr. James Myers, a psychologist specializing in sex offenders, who was assigned by the court to make an assessment, considered Dasen an excellent candidate for treatment and, although not familiar with the scope of the case and the number of women involved, said Dasen posed no threat to the community.
Prosecutor Dan Guzynski disagreed with Myers about Dasen not being threat and said, “If you had reviewed the case you would see that the defendant had unprotected sex with dozens of IV drug users.”
Montana Corrections Officer David Castro, who prepared Dasen’s presentencing report, testified Dasen, admitting only to a “moral lapse,” denied doing anything criminal, claimed his payments of $3 million for sex were contractual in nature and did not constitute prostitution.
In September 2005, before sentencing Dasen to 20 years in prison, with 18 suspended, and a guarantee he would serve at least 20 months in Montana State Prison, Flathead County Judge Stewart Stadler told Dasen, “There’s no question you harmed this community … you harmed these young women … you still don’t think you’ve done anything wrong … continue to maintain that you didn’t know the money was being spent on drugs … you weren’t paying for sex … that 18 or 19-year-old girls would just rush to a motel room to meet you … or that you have photos of a girl that looked like a third grader with braces and you still have some question that she was under 18 … my heart breaks when I read the letters from your children and grandchildren, but nobody led you into this … with the damage you’ve done to this community, you cannot just walk out of here and go to Arizona and live a normal life.”
In November 2006, two Dasen insiders, Dasen Company Budget and Finance and Dasen’s own attorney instituted an involuntary bankruptcy proceeding against Dasen.
A judgment creditor identified as T.E.F. subsequently filed a complaint for determination of non-dischargeability against the proceeding for her $2.2 million judgment entered against Dasen in March 2006 from a personal injury action.
Records indicate that action stemmed from Dasen’s sexual assault of T.E.F. during the fall of 2003 when she was only 16 years old and, in 2005, the jury awarded T.E.F. $2.2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
T.E.F. asserted she was unable to obtain satisfaction of her judgment because Dasen fraudulently transferred at least $5,000,000 in assets and cited a separate fraudulent transfer action prosecuted in Montana against Dasen and various Dasen insiders.
Because Dasen failed to respond, Montana Bankruptcy Judge Ralph Kirscher ruled in favor of T.E.F., excepting her $2.2 million injury action from Dasen’s discharge of debt.
Maricopa County recorded documents reveal, in February 2004, Dasen signed over the Tatum Ranch home he and his wife Susan purchased in 1996, to his wife.
In April 2007 the Montana Supreme Court upheld Dasen’s felony convictions for promotion of prostitution and sexual abuse of children along with three felony counts of prostitution.
Since released from prison, Dasen has been residing in Arizona under an Interstate Probation Supervision Compact with Montana in the same Tatum Ranch home he deeded to his wife.
Photo caption: Richard Dasen during a Montana court appearance.