An Oregon Department of Justice online investigation uncovers evidence used by the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office to prosecute a Madras man for sexually abusing a girl and possessing child pornography
Jefferson County District Attorney Steven F. Leriche and Attorney General John Kroger today announced the sentencing of a former Jefferson County employee to more than 38 years in prison for sexually abusing a girl for eight years and possessing child pornography.
"This sentence sends a strong message that our community will defend our children from sex abuse and child pornography," said Jefferson County District Attorney Steven F. Leriche, who prosecuted the case.
Leriche added that Jefferson County saw a 134 percent increase in reported child abuse in 2008. He expressed deep concern that the county has made cuts and is considering more cuts to the District Attorney's office when child abuse has increased so dramatically. It is a serious problem that the entire county must consider as a priority.
Attorney General John Kroger said today's sentencing is a clear warning to online sex offenders.
"District Attorney Leriche and his team did a great job on this case. I look forward to working again with the Jefferson County District Attorney's office in the future," said Attorney General Kroger.
Richard Pickett, 55, a longtime Jefferson County building and maintenance employee, was convicted last week of 5 counts of first-degree sodomy, 10 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, 9 counts of first-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, 9 counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse, and 2 counts of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct.
It was established during a two-day trial that Pickett abused a girl since she was 8. He was arrested last July following an online investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) unit, which investigates and prosecutes predators who use the internet to target children for sexual exploitation. A child pornography tip led to additional evidence that Pickett had also sexually abused a child.
The ICAC unit works with district attorneys, local law enforcement agencies, and regional task forces to investigate and prosecute online predators. Budget cuts threatened to end the program in Oregon, but Attorney General Kroger made restoring funding a top public safety priority. The program was saved in May when Kroger secured a $665,000 federal stimulus grant to maintain and expand the ICAC program. The additional funds will mean the Oregon Department of Justice can add an additional investigator to assist in pursuing the sorts of tips that led to the prosecution of Pickett.
Since 2005, more than 100 internet predators who targeted Oregon children or operated in Oregon have been convicted as a result of ICAC investigations. ICAC is the only program in Oregon that is equipped with the necessary resources to catch sex predators throughout the state. The ICAC unit has worked in cooperation with more than 160 law enforcement agencies around Oregon.
The ICAC unit's work - and its expansion - is a part of Attorney General Kroger's priority to improve child welfare and safety in Oregon. The Attorney General leads the Oregon Department of Justice. The Department's mission is to fight crime and fraud, protect the environment, improve child welfare, and defend the rights of all Oregonians.
Tony Green, (503) 378-6002 email@example.com