Wednesday, October 15, 2008

An Unfair Fate

For the past 4 months I've been involved in a legislative work group, set up to ensure that people with developmental disabilities in Oregon are protected against, among other things, rape, within the law. Is there really a need for a bill to do this? Aren't these folks protected already in our state. The answer is a resounding "NO"! Don't believe me? Here's a story from out of Astoria, Oregon, published on

ASTORIA, Ore. -- A jury found a man guilty of raping a mentally disabled woman, but the judge in the case set him free pending an appeal.

Wilfred Daniel may never set foot in prison after he appeared in Clatsop County Court for sentencing last Friday and had his eight-year sentence suspended pending an appeal.

The district attorney and the victim's family were furious.

Daniel was still being held by federal customs agents because there is a chance he may be deported.

But if not for that, he would be walking free until his appeal, which could take years.

The victim at the center of the case said she can’t believe this could even happen.

Sharon, 32, said Tuesday that she still remembers every harsh word from Daniel, threats to keep her quiet about him raping her, two years ago.

“He told me that when he got out of jail, he’d put me in jail and nobody would come and see me,” Sharon said.

Sharon has the mental capacity of an 8-year-old, but she found work through the Coast Rehab Facility at a former mill warehouse in Warrenton.

Daniel was Sharon’s supervisor and this is where she said he raped her several times.

Finally, Sharon spoke up and the district attorney filed charges. A jury found Daniel guilty on two counts of rape and one count of coercion.

But at the sentencing hearing, Judge Douglas Beckman said that he was unsatisfied with the jury’s access to information in the case, and he thought it would all be reversed in an appeal.

So Beckman set Daniel free pending that appeal.

Sharon’s foster mother of 15 years, Dot Lusby, was beside herself and said she wants answers.

“He ignored them. He didn’t come back here for a sentencing. He came back to hold his own little trial, and I think his mind was made up even before he put his robe on," Lusby said. “I think he has shown total disrespect for the jury and for the jury system.”

Sharon now has a new job and she’s in counseling, but she doesn’t understand why Daniel isn’t locked up.

"That’s not fair. He should be in jail for what he did to me," Sharon said.

Daniel’s family was at their house in Astoria Tuesday but said their lawyer does not want them to comment.

Beckman is a Plan B judge who is actually retired but is asked to come back to serve on the bench for 30 days each year.

Beckman's assistant said the judge is not allowed by law to comment on any of his rulings.

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