Man shot by deputy is sentenced to prison in sex abuse case

The Lynnwood man threatened suicide when a girl accused him of abuse. He rushed at deputies with a hatchet.

EVERETT — A Lynnwood man must serve 17 months in prison for abusing a young girl — in a case where allegations of child molestation led the man to flee in a panic to the end of the Mountain Loop Highway, where sheriff’s deputies shot and injured him.

The girl first reported the abuse in December 2017. In her class, she’d passed a note to a friend that ended up in the hands of a teacher. The note alleged that the Lynnwood man, 36, tried to make her touch him.

She later told police that the man had, in fact, sexually abused her. Distraught, the man sent suicidal text messages to friends in February 2018, where he threatened to hang himself at a specific campsite east of Granite Falls. With the help of a friend and emergency cell phone pings, deputies found the man at a closed gate on the Mountain Loop. He was in the driver’s seat of his pickup, armed with a a 4½-inch knife and a 10¾-inch hatchet, according to an investigation by the Snohomish County Multiple Agency Response Team, or SMART.

He walked toward the deputies “briskly,” with both weapons, says a summary of the investigation. One deputy fired a Taser from a distance of about 6 feet, but it had little effect. A second deputy shot him with .45-caliber bullets from 12 to 15 feet away.

The man fell. A helicopter airlifted him to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. The man survived, and the use of deadly force was found to be justified by then Whatcom County Prosecutor Dave McEachran.

The man pleaded guilty in October 2018, to one count of second-degree assault for rushing at the deputies, along with a count of violating a domestic violence protection order against a wife who divorced him.

He entered an Alford plea to second-degree assault with intent to commit child molestation in October 2019. In an Alford plea, the defendant asserts that he’s innocent, but acknowledges that a jury may find him guilty based on the evidence.

It’s considered a conviction.

At his sentencing Wednesday, the man insisted on his innocence through tears, saying the girl was abused in the past and she may have had a nightmare that seemed real. He said he’d changed his plea for “her healing and development,” claiming he decided to make a sacrifice rather than dragging out the case.

The girl’s mother read a letter to the judge, on behalf of her daughter.

“I hope he knows that what he did was wrong, even though he may not believe it,” the girl wrote. “I really hope he feels guilty for it. … He did this to me when I was 8. It’s not easy having this happen. I grew up more quickly than I expected to, because of everything that happened and what he did.”

Judge Richard Okrent said he considered the man to be guilty, based on his plea. Okrent approved the plea deal calling for 17 months in prison, three years on probation, and a sexual deviancy evaluation. The judge said the man had created chaos in the lives of the girl and her family, who will need years to heal.

“You cannot take that back, that is a fact,” the judge said. “All you can do is atone for what you’ve done.”

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; Twitter: @snocaleb.

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