Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Oregon prosecutors confused as to what constitutes "sexual assault"

Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski had tough words for sexual predators as he signed Oregon's version of Jessica's Law last year:

"Jessica's law sends an unmistakable message to potential child abusers: Act-out and the state of Oregon will take you off the streets for years and years," the governor declared at a bill-signing ceremony held at the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. "We will not tolerate the sexual abuse of Oregon's children. And anyone who even thinks about hurting a child should know that the full weight of Oregon law will fall on them, and they will be spending a very long time behind bars."

Man...he wasn't kidding:

NEW YORK (July 25) -- Two middle-school students in Oregon are facing possible time in a juvenile jail and could have to register as sex offenders for smacking girls on the rear end at school.

Cory Mashburn and Ryan Cornelison, both 13, were arrested in February after they were caught in the halls of Patton Middle School, in McMinnville, Ore., slapping girls on the rear end. Mashburn told ABC News in a phone interview that this was a common way of saying hello practiced by lots of kids at the school, akin to a secret handshake.

The boys spent five days in a juvenile detention facility and were charged with several counts of felony sex abuse for what they and their parents said was merely inappropriate but not criminal behavior.

"Sex Offender" Ryan Cornelison is released into the custody of his parents

On the surface, it appears as if the District Attorney has backed off a little:

District Attorney Bradley Berry has since dismissed the felony counts. The boys face 10 misdemeanor charges of harassment and sexual abuse. They face a maximum of up to one year in a juvenile jail on each count, though Berry said there was no way the boys would ever serve that much time.

"An appropriate sentence would be probation," he said. "These are minor misdemeanor charges that reflect repeated contact against multiple victims. We never intended for them to get a long time in detention."

Well...good for Berry! Except for this:

The Mashburns' lawyer said prosecutors offered Cory a plea bargain that would not require him to register as a sex offender, which the family plans to reject.But the boys, if convicted at an Aug. 20 trial, still face the possibility of some jail time or registering for life as sex offenders.


My guess is that DA Bradley Berry endured too many wedgies and rat-tails when he was in junior high. And because of that, he's prepared to ruin the lives of two kids who were engaged in some stupid teenage game?

Of course if Patton Middle School was a little, they could have avoided this mess altogether.

1 comment:

Narsil said...

Hey, great post! I have been outraged about this case since I heard of it on July 23rd.

I'm glad to hear that Barry has backed off somewhat, but why is a trial still even going forward? This case required after school detention, not probation, the possibility of having to register as a sex offender, and (the already served) five days in juvenile prison.

This whole thing makes me sick! That the justice system got involved in the first place is a travesty of justice.

I will be contributing to the defense fund already setup for these two boys.

Thanks again for the update.