Sex offender faces 15 years
Convicted of molesting two girls, both under the age of 10, the offender was sentenced to serve 180 months in prison. What makes this exceedingly horrendous is that this conviction is his third on almost the same charges with almost the same aged victimsIn some states, a third conviction means the offender will spend the rest of his life behind bars. For Chester Alger, being convicted of sex abuse for the third time earns him a 15 year sentence.
Alger was arrested after two pre-teen girls told their mother that the family friend and sometime baby-sitter had touched them improperly. The mother reported the crime and an investigation started. That case ended with Circuit Court Judge Daniel Ahern imposing two 90 month prison sentences, to run consecutively for a total of 180 months.
The case came to light earlier this month when the young girls disclosed that the 48-year old man had, as one of the girls told police, touched her "a whole bunch of times." She hadn't reported the incidents before, she said, because she was scared to.
Those interviews and a tape recorded telephone conversation would have been offered as evidence, District Attorney Gary Williams told Judge Ahern. However, as part of a plea bargain, Alger plead no contest to two charges of first degree sex abuse. In exchange two other, similar charges would be dismissed.
Williams explained that if the case had gone to trial, among the evidence that would have been presented was the conversation that was recorded by the girls' mother. In that telephone call, Williams said, Alger in effect confessed.
"I'm trying to overcome all these things in my life," Alger had said according to a transcript of the phone call that Williams read. "The devil has gotten to me ... has made me do things." Later in the taped conversation, in answer to a question, Alger admitted his guilt by saying, "I would say, inadvertently, I have touched them."
The District Attorney said other evidence that could be produced at trial would show the offenders guilt on all of the counts.
As part of the process, Judge Ahern asked the defendant a series of questions. "Would a jury find you guilty of the DA's facts?" Quietly, his voice almost unheard across the room, Alger looked at the judge and answered simply, "Yes."
Williams then explained to the court the reasons for requesting a departure from the sentencing guidelines. Alger's prior history is the deciding factor; eleven convictions which include five driving under the influence, one driving while suspended, one transporting drugs and four felony sex abuse convictions. Those, Williams asserted, are the most serious factors.
According to the pre-sentence investigation, Alger was convicted on two counts of sex abuse in 1980. "These were the exact same charges with the victims being the same ages," Williams said.
In that case he was sentenced to three years in prison, but was released on parole after serving two. While on parole he was convicted of most of the driving offenses. Again, in 1989 in southern Oregon, Alger was convicted of first degree sodomy and first degree rape and once more, the victims were about the same age as the latest victims.
Williams said this is the one of the worst sex abusers he has seen since becoming district attorney. Based on the plea agreement, he asked that the sentence be consecutive double departure sentences of 45 months in prison for a total of 180 months.
Before sentence was handed down, the mother of the young girls was given her opportunity to address the court.
With her voice breaking, the young woman stood and told Alger that he had no idea the impact his actions had on her children ... on her family. He was a friend, she told the judge, one she never, ever expected to harm her girls. But she also thought the system was at fault.
"I feel the system failed my girls. If (Alger) had been put away he wouldn't be here today," she said before turning to face the defendant. "You are a danger. Life should be fun for kids, they shouldn't be afraid of predators like you. Kids should be safe." All through the woman's comments, Alger did not look at her, but stared unmoving at a spot on the table.
Judge Ahern said by accepting a plea bargain, he was left without hearing the accused's version in the case. "But I can echo the victim's mother - every child deserves to be safe."
Based on the facts and Alger's history, Ahern said there was no way of knowing what other victims there may be, but he wanted to make it clear how fortunate the defendant was. "In cases like this in other states with the 'three strikes and you're out' laws, you would be out. You should feel fortunate," Ahern added, "in 15 years you'll be out - in other states, you'd really be 'out' ... forever."
Ahern advised the defendant to use the next 15 years wisely. "I can only hope something good will happen to you in that time and you can find some way to repay society when you get out."
Imposing the requested 180 months of prison time, ten years of post-prison supervision and other conditions such as registering as a sex offender and paying $500 in court costs, the judge heard a request from Alger's attorney, Dan York.
"My client will be 63 years old when he gets out of prison, given that I don't think he'll ever be gainfully employed again, I ask that the $500 costs be reconsidered. Plus the 9th circuit court has thrown out the Alaskan version of Megan's Law (the law that mandates registering of sex offenders) and our version is in question." Therefore, York asked that the sentencing not include either condition.
Judge Ahern did not respond, but did add those to Alger's sentence along with submitting to DNA testing and the requirement that the defendant not have any contact with the victims while in prison or while under post-prison supervision.
Alger, shackled and handcuffed, his face blank, nodded to members of his family in the court room and was led away by a corrections officer and returned to the county jail to wait for transportation to the Oregon prison intake center.