Rinehart acquitted on sex abuse charges

A 12-member Crook County jury found the Prineville resident not guilty on all three counts


A Prineville man facing charges for three sex-based crimes was acquitted on all counts this past Thursday following a jury trial in Crook County.

Matthew Rinehart had been accused of first-degree sex abuse, unlawful penetration in the first degree, and sodomy following an October 2012 incident. Both Rinehart and his accuser were 18 years old at the time.

Crook County Deputy District Attorney Aaron Brenneman said that Rinehart and the alleged victim were in a relationship at the time of the reported incident.

“She had been really sick,” he said. “She indicated that she was asleep in the morning and he sexually assaulted her in her sleep.”

Defense attorney James Leuenberger, of Lake Oswego said it was an unusual case because the alleged victim did not accuse Rinehart of using force or providing her with alcohol.

“There are very few prosecutions for a person being asleep,” he said, “particularly when it was undisputed that they had a mutually consensual sexual relationship before they got into bed - and it had been going on for several months.”

Leuenberger added that the alleged victim admitted to having a medical condition that causes her to sleep with her eyes open and sometimes talk in her sleep.

“So, the State had to prove not only that she was asleep, but that my client knew she was asleep,” he said. “I think that is the reason why the jury found my client not guilty. I think the jury wondered why my client was even being prosecuted.”

The prosecution did not see the case the same way.

“We were disappointed in the verdict,” Brenneman said, “but we certainly respect the jury’s decision and thank them for their service.”

Rinehart was released after the verdict, but he will have to reappear in Crook County Circuit Court again in October to face some Contempt charges.

“He had been incarcerated before the trial and had been released,” Leuenberger explained. “Then, he had been taken back into custody because the State said he violated the terms of his pre-trial release. Because the State says he violated the terms of his pre-trial release, they are now going after him for two counts of contempt.”




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