(Update: Adding prosecutor's news release)
18-month and 22-month sentences are consecutive, for a total of 40 months
MADRAS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A former Jefferson County Middle School educational assistant and assistant track coach pleaded guilty Tuesday to two charges relating to sexual abuse of a 14-year-old male student and received a 40-month prison term.
Kristin Elaine Stickler of Madras began working at the school in October 2017. She allegedly engaged in sexual conduct, including sexual intercourse, with a boy she was coaching between January and April of 2019 and went online as early as Dec. 1, 2018, "to solicit a child to engage in sexual contact," according to the indictment.
Stickler was 25 years old at the time of the alleged incidents. There were 11 original charges, and Stickler, now at 26, pleaded guilty to two of them.
Stickler's attorney, Tim Gassner, told NewsChannel 21 Wednesday the other nine charges were dropped in a plea agreement.
Stickler pleaded guilty to second-degree sexual abuse, receiving an 18-month sentence on that charge, along with three years probation.
She also pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree sexual corruption of a child, receiving another, consecutive 22-month sentence and five years probation.
"She is eligible for all good time and available programs," Gassner said. "There is a $10,000 compensatory fine that will be paid to the victim. Restitution is left open at this point in time."
Gassner said Stickler is required to turn herself in on July 16.
News release from Jefferson County Chief Deputy District Attorney Brentley Foster:
On Tuesday, June 22, 2020, former Jefferson County Middle School Educational Aide Kristin Elaine Stickler, 26, of Madras pleaded guilty to one count of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First Degree and one count of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree in Jefferson County Circuit Court. This result was achieved after a day-long settlement conference presided over by Senior Deschutes County Circuit Court Judge Michael Adler in which both sides were strongly encouraged to resolve the case. After consulting with the victim’s family, the State agreed to the resolution in order to avoid forcing the young victim to have to testify publically and to prevent the case from being further delayed in the court system as a result of court closures and unavoidable case backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional sex offense allegations and an allegation of allowing a minor to remain in an area where unlawful activity involving controlled substances was conducted were dismissed pursuant to the negotiations.
Stickler’s charges stemmed from a sexual relationship Stickler cultivated with a student who was then 13 years old. Stickler’s conduct was discovered after a parent reported to staff at Jefferson County Middle School that Stickler had attempted to add her teenaged son on Snapchat, a social messaging app. Subsequent investigation revealed that Stickler had added several students on the app and developed a relationship with her victim through interacting with the victim at school, messaging through Snapchat, sending nude pictures of herself to the youth and allegedly consuming marijuana with the youth. Stickler’s conduct culminated in having oral sexual intercourse with the victim. District Attorney Steve Leriche noted that Stickler engaged in classic grooming behaviors that work to build trust and an emotional connection with a child or young person in order to manipulate, exploit, and abuse them for the offender’s own gratification.
Stickler was sentenced to 18 months prison for the count of Online Sexual Corruption of a Child in the First Degree to be served consecutively with 22 months prison for the count of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, for a total of 40 months prison. She will be eligible to earn time off her sentence for good behavior. In addition, Stickler was ordered to pay a $10,000.00 compensatory fine to the victim and will have to register as a sex offender. Leriche commented that under the present system, often the only way to achieve the sizeable sentences the public wants to see in these types of cases is to force the case to a trial that would require a child victim to testify in open court, a process that can add further trauma for victims. Leriche noted that unfortunately, no amount of time will ever give back what a sex offender steals from his or her victim, so the balance is to try to hold that offender accountable without subjecting the victim to further unnecessary distress, which is why it is so important to ensure that a victim or victim’s family is consulted throughout negotiations and has a voice in the process.
Multiple members of Stickler’s local church submitted letters of support on her behalf. It was unclear whether these supporters were aware of the full scope of Stickler’s behavior against her 13 year old victim. Leriche stated that it was unfortunate that adults would choose to support an adult sex offender over a child victim but added that such support is not uncommon, as one reason sex offenders are so often successful in hiding their crimes is because they present themselves as upstanding members of the community and are able to manipulate supporters into believing that such a good person could never commit the crimes for which they are charged. Leriche provided multiple examples of Jefferson County cases in which adults in positions of trust and authority in the community used their positions and access to children to commit their offenses, such as former Madras High School track coach Melissa Bowerman’s conviction for Sex Abuse in the Second Degree; former Madras Police Officer John Joseph Wallace Jr.’s convictions for Attempted Sex Abuse in the First Degree and Official Misconduct; former Madras High School girls’ basketball coach David Osborne’s convictions for four counts of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree; and former foster parent Gary Clift’s convictions for Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, multiple counts of Attempted Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, and multiple counts of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the First Degree. Stickler’s guilty plea achieves closure for the victim and the community and leaves no doubt as to the nature of her conduct.