Justin Bedard cried and begged a judge Friday morning in Pendleton not to send him to prison for the rape and sexual exploitation of a 12-year-old girl. But Circuit Court Judge Chris Brauer of the 6th Judicial District stuck to the sentencing deal Bedard made a deal with prosecutors.
Brauer sentenced Bedard, 35, and his co-defendant Lori Wickert, 33, both of Pilot Rock, to six years, three months each for their 2012 crimes against the girl. The pair were accomplices of John Wesley Malcom, 45, who Circuit Court Judge Eva Temple of Hermiston sentenced last week to 37 years after he admitted to repeatedly using the girl in the making of child pornography.
Bedard in November 2013 pleaded guilty to second-degree rape and using a child in sexually explicit conduct, and Wickert in February pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree sexual abuse. The child who suffered the crimes is related to Wickert.
Bedard appeared in court in cuffs and yellow jail clothes. His mother and father and other supporters sat in the benches behind him along with defense attorney Jon Lieuallen. Chief deputy district attorney Richard Bunney represented the state.
Bunney told the court he was in contact with the sex crimes survivor and her family, and they understood the plea deals and decided not to come to court or provide a statement. Lieuallen, though, read a Christmas card the victim’s family sent to Bedard that stated they knew someone compelled him to commit his crimes.
The card did not identify who that was, nor did anyone else, but in hearings early in the case Bunney portrayed Malcom as the ringleader.
Bedard apologized to his parents and others for his involvement in the crimes. He said he was the victim of manipulation and never hurt anyone before. He cried during much of his statement and while he read a letter of apology to the girl and her family.
“At a time I should have been strong and protected you, I was a coward,” he read.
He also said Oregon law allows judges to make exceptions for certain offenders of some crimes, and he fell under that. He implored the judge not to send him to prison.
But Brauer gave him 75 months for the rape charge and 70 months concurrent for the other, per the plea deal. “It’s now time for you to pay your dues,” the judge said.
Wickert during her sentencing appeared via video from the Umatilla County Jail, Pendleton. She had no supporters in court.
“I just want to say I’m going to take and learn my lesson from this experience and become a better person in life,” she told Brauer.
He also sentenced her according to the deal she reached: 18 months in prison on two counts apiece and 39 months on the third, all consecutive, for a total of 75.
Bedard and Wickert have been in the county jail since 2012 and will receive credit for the time they served. They also will have probation after prison and must register as sex offenders.
Brauer also ordered they cannot have contact with the girl they victimized. But Bunney told Brauer that at some point after she turns 18 she wants to have contact with Wickert. Dean Gushwa, Wickert’s attorney, said there is a process for that. Brauer said that is not for the court to decide now.
The proceedings conclude one of the largest sex crimes cases the county has had in recent years. Bunney said afterward he was pleased with the hefty sentence Malcom will serve, and the prison time for Bedard and Wickert reflects their willingness to cooperate with the state. He also expressed his hope this helps the survivor and her family.
Contact Phil Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 541-966-0833.