News

Sequim teen found guilty of child rape

by AMANDA WINTERS
Sequim Gazette

A 16-year-old Sequim boy was found guilty Tuesday of two counts of child rape after a two-day fact-finding trial in Clallam County Juvenile Court.

 

Judge S. Brooke Taylor also found the juvenile guilty of one count of indecent exposure and one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes. He was found not guilty of one count of indecent exposure.

 

The trial of the boy began Monday, nearly two years after he was arrested.

 

The juvenile, who will not be named because of his age, originally was charged by Clallam County Deputy Prosecutor Tracey Lassus in January 2009 with one count of incest and three counts of child rape. The charges were amended twice and for the last time Monday to two counts of first-degree child rape, one count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes and two counts of indecent exposure.

 

The juvenile’s victims ranged in age from 7 to 10 years old at the time the crimes occurred in 2008.

Victim testimony

Two of the victims testified, while the other did not because the court previously ruled he was not a competent witness. To protect the identities of victims of sex crimes, the Gazette will not name the victims or witnesses.

 

One victim, now 10 years old, cried as he testified he saw the juvenile rape his brother in his own backyard.

 

They were neighbors with the juvenile and frequently played together, the victim’s stepmother testified.

The victim said the juvenile later exposed himself and asked if the two of them could have sex like the juvenile did with the victim’s brother.

 

“I said no,” he said.

 

Another victim, age 12, quietly testified the juvenile dragged him by his legs to the backyard and raped him after they were playing in a swimming pool at the juvenile’s house.

 

In her closing argument, Lassus referred back to the 12-year-old who testified.

 

“At one point he whispered (the juvenile) was his best friend but now he has a new best friend,” she said. “A best friend who doesn’t hurt him.”

Defense argument

A psychologist, Dr. Sarah Baxter, testified for the defense.

 

Baxter said one of the victims, who did not testify, didn’t provide a high amount of detail in transcribed interviews with police despite their attempts to elicit detail.

 

Baxter said she couldn’t come up with a firm conclusion on the reliability of the interview because of the lack of detail.

 

Defense attorney Carol Mortensen argued in her closing statement that the lack of details made it impossible to determine without a reasonable doubt the juvenile was guilty.

 

“I’m frankly glad we have a judge because of the overwhelming emotionalism attached to the allegations,” she said.

 

Mortensen argued one of the victims made up the rape story to keep from getting in trouble himself after his aunt teased him about kissing a neighbor girl.

Judgement

Taylor deliberated for 15 minutes before finding the juvenile guilty on all counts but one. One charge of indecent exposure, which involved the juvenile’s sister, will be dismissed.

 

Taylor said he could find it probably happened, but not beyond a reasonable doubt. The alleged victim in the dismissed indecent exposure charge was found to be an incompetent witness and was not allowed to testify during the trial.

 

“Of all the children involved, (the juvenile’s sister) might be the most victimized,” Taylor said. “But we couldn’t get any reliable testimony in court or out of court to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”

 

Family members of the victims cried with each determination of guilt and hugged Lassus after court was adjourned.

 

Taylor will sentence the juvenile on Dec. 16.

 

Reach Amanda Winters at awinters@sequimgazette.com.

 

 

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