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December 28, 2007

More details and insights on Rodriguez case from Oregon

I discussed in this recent post the interesting decision in Oregon v. Rodriguez, No. A131050 (Or. Ct. App. Dec. 26, 2007) (available here), in which a appellate court overruled a sentencing judge's conclusion that a mandatory minimum sentencing term was unconstitutionally severe.  The case involving a female counselor convicted of unlawful heavy petting of an underage ward, and this local article reviews some of the case's interesting details: 

A 27-year-old Beaverton woman who spent just under a year in prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old boy at the Hillsboro Boys & Girls Club will have to serve another five years under an Oregon Appeals Court decision released Wednesday....  According to Oregon corrections records, she served from Oct. 13, 2005, until Oct. 3, 2006, and currently is on post-prison supervision....

In September 2005, a jury found Rodriguez guilty of one count of first-degree sexual abuse for pulling a boy's head into her breasts while rubbing his temples and running her fingers through his hair in the downtown Hillsboro club's snack room....

Rodriguez was 24 and the victim was 12 when they met. Rodriguez testified she broke club rules when she and the boy were alone in both of their apartments and on trips to Seattle. He sat on her lap in her office, kissed her on the cheek and they routinely hugged and wrote each other e-mails that professed their love.  But Rodriguez emphasized there wasn't anything sexual about their relationship and denied any inappropriate touching.

Over at Sex Crimes, Corey Yung has this effective post discussing the Rodriguez decision.  It ends this way:

I'm a bit troubled by the reasoning of the [appeals] court because the charged conduct was so minimal.  However, with the many acquitted conduct and relevant conduct decisions around, I've probably become jaded to this sort of thing.  Nonetheless, like the crazy child pornography sentences in Arizona, I think these sentences are hard to justify under any theory that includes a notion of marginal deterrence.

I suspect a further appeal to the Oregon Supreme Court by the defendant in this case is likely.  I hope that court takes up Rodriguez, in part because the case raises many nettlesome issues surrounding judicial review of severe mandatory minimum sentencing terms.

December 28, 2007 at 09:03 AM | Permalink


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The only nettlesome issue, it seems to me, is the sufficiency issue. Sexual contact (assuming the sufficiency issue is overcome) between a 13 year old and a 25 year old can easily be punished with 6 years in jail. There may be some goofy things in Oregon law, but the 8th Amendment is not offended here.

Posted by: federalist | Dec 28, 2007 11:08:22 AM

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