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Penninger pleads not guilty to drugging, raping teenage girl charges

A Medford man pleaded not guilty in Jackson County Circuit Court Wednesday to charges of rape and forcing methamphetamine on a 16-year-old girl.

Travis Dale Penninger, who turns 25 on Sunday, of the 2300 block of Table Rock Road, has been charged with two counts each of first-degree rape and contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor and single counts of first- and second-degree sexual abuse, delivering methamphetamine to a minor and fourth-degree assault. Penninger has pleaded not guilty to all counts.

Medford police said Penninger was a family friend of the victim, but investigators said he also matches the description of a man reportedly stalking teenage girls in Medford in January.

Medford police Sgt. Phil Eastman described Penninger as having a "predatory type personality."

Penninger was arrested on March 4 after a 16-year-old girl reported the previous Sunday evening that she had been sexually assaulted by someone she knew, Eastman said.

The girl told police that she had met Penninger twice and, each time, he had forced her to use meth, then raped her while she was under the drug's influence, a police department news release said. The most recent alleged assault had happened the weekend prior to Penninger's arrest. Another incident had happened earlier, Eastman said.

A detective and a nurse trained in examining victims of sexual assault were called to investigate, and found evidence that led to Penninger's arrest.

Investigators also determined that Penninger matched the description of a man who was reported following teenage girls on two occasions Jan. 14 and Jan. 21 on West Main Street in Medford and in the Winco parking lot. Two vehicles were linked to that man and both vehicle descriptions matched cars owned by Penninger's family, Eastman said.

The man in those cases didn't try to contact the girls, but his behavior and demeanor alarmed the girls enough to call police, Eastman said.

Penninger remained in jail Thursday. His bail has been set at $1 million and includes no-contact orders and security constraints.

A pre-trial hearing has been set for March 24.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Penninger pleads not guilty to drugging, raping teenage girl charges