Crime

Everson man gets prison for sex abuse of autistic girl

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An Everson man must serve 2 years and 10 months in prison for the sexual abuse of an autistic teenage girl, a Whatcom County judge ruled this week.

The girl confided in her mother in April 2016 that William Samuel Cunningham, 37, touched her privates. Cunningham knew the girl, who was younger than 15. She asked her mom to not get mad at Cunningham.

The girl later told police he sexually touched her on three separate days. She recalled Cunningham telling her not to tell her mother.

At the police station Cunningham claimed he had been checking stretch marks on the girl’s legs. He claimed the girl must have made up the story because she was mad at him. Months later he acknowledged that the abuse had, in fact, happened.

Cunningham, an unemployed long-haul trucker, pleaded guilty in December to two counts of third-degree child rape. Two other counts were dropped in the plea deal.

In the meantime the girl was diagnosed with severe post-traumatic stress, according to an investigation by the state Department of Corrections.

Cunningham had no prior felony record. Under state sentencing guidelines he faced 26 to 34 months in prison. The deal called for him to serve 34 months.

Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder approved the plea deal Monday.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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