Rather than face a possible long prison term, a young Crook County High School student has accepted a guilty plea on sex abuse charges and will serve a much lesser sentence.
>A 17-year old boy accepts a guilty plea to a lesser crime which could have sent him to prison for as long as 10, or possibly even 30 years
17-year-old Daniel Lee Munjar had been accused of a multiple list of charges, including two counts of sex abuse, sodomy and unlawful sexual penetration. The victim in the crime was under the age of 12 and if a jury had found him guilty of the charges, all Measure 11 crimes, the young man would have been sentenced to a minimum of 100 months in prison, and a maximum of more than 10 years prison time.
For a number of reasons, though, District Attorney Gary Williams decided to let him plead to a lesser, non-Measure 11 crime.
"The reasons for accepting the plea," Williams explained, "was that Munjar had no prior criminal history of any kind, he was only 14 and 15 when many of the incidents occurred and the fact that he cooperated with the police and admitted to his involvement."
As part of the plea arrangement, Munjar accepted a stipulated waiver, moving the case from juvenile to adult court. Williams said the agreement was made with the full knowledge and agreement of the victim's family.
Appearing before Judge Gary Thompson, Munjar entered a plea of guilty to the crime of attempted unlawful sexual penetration. Williams pointed out that by reducing the crime to 'attempted,' moved it out of the Measure 11 realm. "It became a class "B" felony rather than a class "A" felony. However, I did not get the presumptive sentence I asked for. the judge used his discretion and sentenced him to optional probation."
There are very few instances under Oregon law, Williams explained, that allow a judge to stray from sentencing guidelines. "There is no digression under Measure 11 and only a few crimes where the judge has the option. Munjar didn't have the option, the judge did."
Apparently Judge Thompson looked at the psychological/psychosexual evaluation and the defenses sentencing memorandum and decided on the sentence of optional probation of 36 months. In addition, Munjar will serve 90 days in the county jail and will have to register as a sexual offender, have no unsupervised contact with females under the age of 18 and no contact with females more than three years younger than he is.
That, Williams said, was not the sentence he had recommended. "I recommended 18 months in prison," he said. "He could have done a minimum of 100 months if it had gone to a jury. The victim's family were not overjoyed with the sentence, but they were in agreement with taking it out of the Measure 11 level."
Munjar, a junior at CCHS, was also an NJROTC cadet. Williams said he had been asked to bring lesser charges against the youth. But, he reasoned, there are too many cases similar to this one that he sees to not take a serious approach.
"I do all the sex pervert cases in this office," he explained. "I have for the past 11 years. In the past three or four years, half of all sex cases have been with juvenile offenders. Kids, 13 to 17 years old committing sex offenses on other kids."
Apparently, simply hiding this situation is not an option for the district attorney.