Plea deal gets Leach five years

Leach

A former Milton-Freewater-area man has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sex abuse and will serve five years in an Oregon prison.

The state accused Jason Allen Leach, 37, of raping and sexually abusing his daughters between July 1999 and February 2006. A Umatilla County Grand Jury indicted Leach in March of 2008 for numerous sex offenses. Following the indictment, Oregon State Police arrested Leach on March 19 and booked him into the Umatilla County Jail in Pendleton, where he has remained on $500,000 bail.

Leach's jury trial was to begin Monday in the Umatilla County Courthouse in Pendleton. The Umatilla County District Attorney's Office had charged Leach with two counts of first-degree rape, eight counts of first-degree sodomy, two counts of sexual penetration with a foreign object, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of unlawful sexual penetration in the second degree.

Rape, sodomy and sexual penetration are Class A felonies and carry mandatory minimum prison sentences. Each count of first-degree rape and first-degree sodomy carries an eight-year, four-month sentence and second-degree unlawful sexual penetration has a prison term of six years, three months.

If a jury had convicted Leach on all counts, his prison sentence could have been nearly 50 years.

Friday, Leach made a deal to plead guilty to the lesser charges. Monday morning, visiting Judge William Snouffer of Portland sentenced Leach. During the hearing Monday, one of Leach's victims spoke against Leach, as did four other family members.

Simonne Weyand, the deputy district attorney handling the case, said after the sentencing she wanted to give Leach more prison time, but given the circumstances of the case this was the best plea deal the state could produce.

In addition to the five years, Leach will be on post-prison supervision and have to go through sex offender treatment.

Before the sentence hearing, defense attorney Michael Breiling said Leach made the deal because he decided taking his chance with a jury would be akin to "a roll of the dice."

Breiling said considering the prison sentence Leach was facing, he likely made what he saw as the best decision.

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