PRINEVILLE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A 23-year-old Prineville man has received a 25-year prison sentence for after pleading guilty to sex abuse charges, Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting said.
Brandon James Hunter was sentenced Monday by Crook County Circuit Judge Michael McLane.
Whiting said the sentence included no eligibility for any form of early release from custody, a provision for both lifetime supervision and registration as a sex offender. The sentence was the result of a negotiated plea resolution.
In 2013, Hunter was ordered to register as a sex offender for an offense that took place in Washington state. In 2018, Hunter was convicted for separate offenses of failure to report as a sex offender and harassment involving contact with a 12-year-old female which constituted grooming behavior.
In April 2019, an instructional assistant at a local elementary school reported that a developmentally delayed student asked the staff member to rub her leg. The child disclosed Hunter does this to her and demonstrated physically rubbing her inner thigh near her private parts.
The child made other statements suggesting this occurrence was not an isolated incident, Whiting said. These concerning statements and other background information were immediately reported to the Oregon Department of Human Services, and a police investigation ensued. Hunter was taken into custody the same day and has remained in the county jail since.
During the course of the investigation, Hunter’s cellphone was seized and a search warrant was obtained. During a forensic evaluation of Hunter’s phone, a photograph and two cellphone videos of Hunter perpetrating sex crimes on two different victims was discovered, Whiting said.
Hunter pleaded guilty to first-degree charges of sodomy and sexual abuse, based upon the unlawful sexual acts captured on his cell phone.
Whiting said that prior to sentencing, Hunter, through his attorney, presented the following statement to the court: “I would like to say that I have done an evil thing, and there are no words to fix this. There is no way to take back what I have done, but I am truly sorry and want to be a better person, not just for myself but for my fellow men and women.
"I would like to thank the DA for working hard to stop people that have done evil things and to make them pay the price for their evil. I truly hope to God that all this will make me a better person for many years to come. Thank you again, and I am truly sorry for all I have done.”
Oregon state law mandates that workers in certain professions, including school district employees, must make reports if they have reasonable cause to suspect abuse or neglect of a child.
Whiting said the instructional assistant in this case was instrumental in protecting this child from future abuse by carefully listening to the child’s disclosure and quickly making the necessary report to the child abuse reporting hotline.
Sergeant Jake Childers and Detective Eric King of the Crook County Sheriff’s Office led the investigation, interviewed multiple witnesses, obtained physical evidence and arrested the defendant.
DHS and KIDS Center provided invaluable support by conducting forensic interviews and providing support to the victims’ family. The Redmond Police Department assisted in the forensic evaluation of the cell phone. The State of Oregon was represented by Deputy District Attorney Chris Morgan.
"The Crook County District Attorney’s Office is appreciative of the Crook County School District’s emphasis on properly training mandated reporters which lead to this initial report being timely made," Whiting said in a news release Tuesday. "This prosecution would not have been made possible without the collaborative efforts of many of our community agencies working together to protect our community’s most vulnerable."