A Bellingham man was given a special sex offender sentencing alternative, commonly referred to as SSOSA, for molesting a 13-year-old boy he met through the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Ryan Thomas Tenorio High, 26, was sentenced to 60 days in jail Wednesday as part of plea deal that included the sentencing alternative, according to Whatcom County Superior Court records. High pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree child molestation Oct. 18, court records show.
Under his SSOSA, High has to pay all court-ordered fines, undergo and successfully complete an outpatient sex offender treatment program for a period of up to five years, obtain and maintain employment, submit to DNA and HIV testing, and have no contact with the victim for 10 years, court records show. High also cannot access pornography or sexually explicit material in any form and has to register as a sex offender, the records state.
During a presentence interview, the victim told investigators that he is doing poorly in school and his grades have dropped dramatically since the molestation. The boy said he no longer cares and doing school work reminds him of High, as High used to help him with his studies, according to court records.
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The boy has also become angry, depressed and has anxiety, the records state.
During his presentence interview, High said he was remorseful and was concerned about “undoing all the good he had done with (the boy) because of his actions,” the records state.
High was given a sentencing alternative because officials believe he will be amenable to treatment. Investigators note that while High is a good candidate for a SSOSA program, the “sentencing alternative does not mean that Mr. High’s actions did not have any less impact on the victim than someone else who may be going to prison for the same crime,” the records state.
In June 2016, a then 13-year-old boy’s mother called Bellingham Police to report her son had been sexually assaulted by High.
High had met the boy and been assigned to be his mentor as part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, which helps support children by pairing them with volunteer adults through one-on-one mentoring, according to court records. The local Big Brothers Big Sisters chapter closed in 2013 because of financial strains.
High quit the program in 2011 so he could be a foster parent to the boy for roughly eight months while the boy’s mother was regaining custody, court records show. High continued to be close friends with the family.
In June 2016, the boy was playing at Bloedel Donovan Park with friends. When his friends left, he called High for a ride. The boy had texted his mother to let her know he was with High, but the messages never went through, court records state.
High took the boy back to his apartment where the boy showered and was given clean clothes. The two gave each other back massages before High molested the boy. The boy told High to stop multiple times, according to court records.
The boy immediately told his mother when he got home.
The boy told police during an interview the incident scared him because he “spent a lot of time” with High, and that this had never happened before, according to court documents.
High and the boy have not had contact since the incident.
The former director of the local Big Brothers Big Sisters program could not be reached for comment.