KENDALL - A Whatcom County man has pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting an autistic preteen girl.
Nick David Woodin, of the Kendall area, touched the girl while she slept in September 2008. He was 21.
During a confession three years later, Woodin "expressed repeatedly that he felt guilty because of her age and the fact that it constituted cheating on his girlfriend," according to charging documents filed in Whatcom County Superior Court.
While Woodin awaited trial, the girl suffered more sexual abuse in California when she went missing from a youth center in late November 2012, according to court records. She was found two days later on a bus, beaten, with bruising all around her neck, her father told local media.
Prosecutors charged a 36-year-old San Francisco man, Gary Steven Atkinson, with kidnapping, three counts of rape of an incompetent person, three counts of committing a lewd act on a child and attempting lewd acts on a child.
As for Woodin, prosecutors believed they had a strong case to convict him of molestation - if the girl would testify. But the Whatcom County Prosecutor's Office determined it wasn't in her best interest to dredge up memories of the abuse suffered in Whatcom County.
"We made the decision not to bring her back," said Deputy Prosecutor Eric Richey. "I think it would've caused more harm than good."
Judge Ira Uhrig accepted Woodin's plea bargain on Feb. 28, giving him a suspended jail sentence of one year for fourth-degree assault with a sexual motivation. He has to serve a month of that time on work release.
Woodin didn't return a call seeking comment Tuesday, March 12.