Elderly man gets 30 days for luring girls at Bellingham park

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 9, 2013 

BELLINGHAM - An 84-year-old man who tried to lure girls to him at Broadway Park in 2011 was sentenced to 30 days of jail alternatives Tuesday morning, May 7, in Whatcom County Superior Court.

Raul John Donoso pleaded guilty to two counts of child luring. As part of the plea agreement, a charge of first-degree possession of child pornography will be dismissed if he abides by certain conditions over the next two years, senior deputy prosecutor Jim Hulbert said.

Those conditions include no contact with minors. If he violates those conditions, he could face about two years in prison. His 30-day sentence for luring likely will be served on electronic home monitoring.

Donoso was arrested in June 2011, after a woman called police to report an elderly man driving slowly around Broadway Park, staring at young girls. After watching him drive several times around the park, she wrote down his license plate number and then saw him park and go sit next to a bathroom area, where he watched girls playing nearby.

As Bellingham Police officers arrived at the park, they saw a man getting into a car registered to Donoso and leaving.

One girl, who was about 10 at the time, told officers that an old man in a car pulled up very close to her and asked her if she wanted some candy. She told officers she ran because she was scared.

Another girl around the same age told officers that a strange man sitting near the bathroom had beckoned her to come over to him with his hand. The woman who called police identified a picture of Donoso as the man who had been driving around the park.

When officers went to Donoso's house, he admitted to being at the park but denied contacting the girls. He then admitted to officers that he had pornography of younger males and females on his computer, according to court documents. A preliminary examination of devices found in his home revealed an image of what appeared to be a prepubescent girl having sex with a boy.

Officers also searched Donoso's car and found candy inside that was consistent with child witness descriptions.

Donoso has a history of police contacts for his contact with minors over the past 10 years, according to court documents. Bellingham Police contacted him after a report that he had exposed himself to a 6-year-old girl. Police were alerted after two incidents two weeks apart in which Donoso followed a woman and her daughter around the Bakerview Fred Meyer, calling the girl "princess" and blowing her kisses until someone tried to take his picture. In another incident, two people reported an older man taking photos of young girls with his cellphone. The man's car license plate number matched Donoso's.

Hulbert said he was glad to get a conviction and get a felony on Donoso's record in this case.

"Of the charges, I was most alarmed by the luring, and I thought it was important to get those convictions," he said.

Reach Zoe Fraley at 360-756-2803 or zoe.fraley@bellinghamherald.com.

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