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Ferndale man sentenced to 2 years in prison for sexually assaulting minor

McClatchy

A 22-year-old Ferndale man was sentenced to two years in prison for raping a minor – three years after he was sentenced for assaulting a different minor.

Jesse Dean McCandless was sentenced Nov. 7 in Whatcom County Superior Court for one count of indecent liberties. McCandless also was ordered to three years of probation following his prison term, according to court records. He pleaded guilty Sept. 13.

McCandless was originally charged with one count of second-degree rape, one count of third-degree rape of a child, two counts of first-degree child molestation, one count of first-degree burglary, and one count of felony harassment.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Erik Sigmar said McCandless’ charges were pleaded down out of interest for the victim – the victim wanted to make sure McCandless saw prison time and that outcome wasn’t guaranteed if the case went to trial.

Sigmar said he originally charged McCandless with several counts not only because of the nature of his crime, but also McCandless’ previous conviction was originally a child sex offense that got pleaded down to third-degree assault.

“I felt like I had someone predatory and I needed to come out strong. I think we achieved the outcome we were hoping for,” Sigmar said. “This is more about the victim than anyone else. …We got some accountability and we do the best we can with the resources we have.”

As part of his sentence, McCandless has to register as a sex offender, have no contact with minors or be in a place where minors congregate, undergo a sexual deviancy evaluation and follow the recommended treatment, undergo a mental health evaluation and follow treatment, as well as comply with several other requirements. McCandless also can’t have contact with the victim for 10 years, according to court records.

In late September, a 15-year-old girl reported to police that McCandless had forcibly removed her clothes and raped her in her bedroom, according to court records.

McCandless also threatened the girl that he would slit her throat, according to court records.

The girl told detectives she was afraid of McCandless and believed he was capable of harming her, the records state.

In October 2013, a man noticed McCandless’ car parked on Dahlberg Road in Ferndale. When the man approached the vehicle, he saw McCandless having sex with what looked like a minor female. Police later determined that McCandless, who was 18 at the time, was dating a 13-year-old girl, according to court records.

During interviews, the girl told investigators she had informed McCandless of her age before having sex, and said the sex was consensual, according to court documents.

McCandless’ charge of second-degree rape of a child was pleaded down to third-degree assault, after prosecutors were unable to further contact the victim, the records state. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two months in jail Aug. 28, 2014.

That sentence allowed McCandless the option of in-custody work crew or work release, court records show. McCandless was supposed to be on probation for a year, participate in a sexual deviancy program, take a polygraph test, not use or possess sexually explicit material in any form and avoid all contact with minors, according to court records.

But on Sept. 9, 2014, the Department of Corrections closed its supervision of McCandless in that case, stating that his assault offense didn’t meet the eligibility requirements for supervision, court records show.

Denver Pratt: 360-715-2236, @DenverPratt

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