A wealthy Lake Stevens businessman who sexually abused numerous young girls over the last four decades will spend at least the next 13 years behind bars.
Les Warrum Eldredge, 64, was sentenced to prison Friday, despite a bid to get him a year in jail plus treatment in the community under a special sentencing alternative for sexual offenders.
While announcing his decision, Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Thomas Wynne noted the sentencing alternative might be the better course for Eldredge, but he’s more concerned about what’s good for his victims and the community.
Eldredge agreed to a trial before the judge instead of a jury. Wynne found him guilty on Friday, and then imposed the longest term he could under the law. The 13 years is a minimum term. A state panel could keep him jailed for life if it decides it is not safe to release Eldredge.
He was convicted of two counts of first-degree child rape of a girl who now is 9 years old. The rapes happened between 2005 and 2007.
During an evaluation for the sentencing alternative, Eldredge admitted that he had abused at least eight children over the last four decades. The other cases could not be charged because they happened too long ago.
Everett defense attorney Royce Ferguson argued that Eldredge was a good candidate for the sentencing alternative. Ferguson brought a sexual offender treatment provider to court to testify that Eldredge has a good chance of successfully completing treatment.
Deputy prosecutor Mark Roe told the court that he’s a firm believer in treatment and the special sentencing alternative. He strongly opposed it for Eldredge, however.
No defendant he knows “deserves it less than this guy,” Roe told the court.
The prosecutor pointed out Eldredge already has shown bad judgment.
Roe brought Eldredge to court last week because he learned that the defendant and his wife hosted another couple with two young children for a weekend. The visit happened after Wynne had ordered Eldredge to stay away from kids.
A judge then increased Eldredge’s bail from $200,000 to $500,000 because he violated Wynne’s order to avoid children. Roe told the court that Eldredge has about $19 million in assets, and within a couple of days he had posted $500,000 cash bail.
He was taken into custody at the conclusion of Friday’s sentencing hearing.
A woman who says she was Eldredge’s victim years ago, and the father of the 9-year-old victim asked the judge to put Eldredge away for a long time. The father read a letter written by his daughter, who said she wanted the man put behind bars “so he wouldn’t hunt me down and do it again.”
Eldredge apologized to the girl and to the other victims.
Roe told the judge Eldredge doesn’t deserve a break because of the damage he’s done to many girls over 40 years.
Some letters of support for Eldredge begged for leniency because it would be good for him.
“I’m not interested in what’s best for him,” Roe said. The letter writers “don’t know the scope of what he’s done.”