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Judge uses `3 strikes' law on Eugene man.

Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

A Eugene man convicted of child molestation Child molestation is a crime involving a range of indecent or sexual activities between an adult and a child, usually under the age of 14. In psychiatric terms, these acts are sometimes known as pedophilia.  for the third time was sentenced Monday to life in prison without the possibility of release under Oregon's "three strikes" law, which provides the harsh sentence for chronic sex offenders sex offender n. generic term for all persons convicted of crimes involving sex, including rape, molestation, sexual harassment and pornography production or distribution. .

The victim was 4 years old at the time of the offense and testified in the trial of 53-year-old William Kenneth Owens Jr. A jury convicted Owens of first-degree sexual abuse on April 17.

It is the policy of The Register-Guard to not identify child victims of sex crimes.

Lane County Deputy District Attorney Bob Gorham said Owens operated a janitorial business where he employed the victim's mother and he volunteered to baby-sit the girl, Gorham said.

In court, the victim's mother told Owens that she forgives him and prays for him. Owens said nothing before Lane County Circuit Judge Maurice Merten imposed the sentence.

Lawmakers passed the three strikes law in 2001. Eight Oregon inmates are serving life-without-parole sentences for sex crimes, according to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

 Oregon Department of Corrections data.

Court records indicate that Owens was convicted of molesting a 4-year-old girl in 1979 and a 6-year-old boy in 1982. He violated vi·o·late  
tr.v. vi·o·lat·ed, vi·o·lat·ing, vi·o·lates
1. To break or disregard (a law or promise, for example).

2. To assault (a person) sexually.

 parole parole (pərōl`), in criminal law, release from prison of a convict before the expiration of his term on condition that his activities be restricted and that he report regularly to an officer.  by not registering as a sex offender and was sent back to prison, according to court records.

The investigation of the current case revealed a fourth molestation molestation n. the crime of sexual acts with children up to the age of 18, including touching of private parts, exposure of genitalia, taking of pornographic pictures, rape, inducement of sexual acts with the molester or with other children, and variations of these  by Owens in 2006, Gorham said. Owens confessed to that crime, although he was not charged with it. The 9-year-old victim of the 2006 molestation testified in the current case, Gorham said.

Defense lawyer Bill Tufts argued in court that Owens qualified for a lesser sentence because a psychological test showedOwens was a "medium risk" for offending of·fend  
v. of·fend·ed, of·fend·ing, of·fends
1. To cause displeasure, anger, resentment, or wounded feelings in.

 again, and because the current offense created less impact for the victim than is typical in similar cases. Tufts did not elaborate.

The law requires that a judge find "substantial and compelling reasons" to impose less than the mandatory life term.

Gorham said Owens is the type of offender targeted by the three strikes law.
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Title Annotation:City/Region
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:May 13, 2008
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