Crime

Bellingham man gets 2 years for sex abuse of girl

A Bellingham man must spend two years in prison for sexually abusing a girl younger than 8, a Whatcom County judge has ruled.

In April 2013 the girl told her mother that Eric Douglas Scott, 40, of Forest Street, choked her at his home while he was drunk, according to charging papers.

The girl reported she asked Scott to make something to eat sometime after 9 p.m., and when he could not find a jar of blueberry jelly, he started throwing things. Then he put his hands around her neck. Her mother reported the abuse the next day. Scott, when interviewed that day, told police he’d stopped drinking around midnight; a Breathalyzer test at 2 p.m. gauged his blood-alcohol content at 0.098, according to charging papers.

Two months later the girl started acting out sexually in front of her mother. In an interview with a detective, she said Scott touched her inappropriately. She said Scott told her not to tell anyone or else she’d get spanked.

Scott denied molesting the girl, and in a three-paragraph statement about the choking incident, he claimed it happened as he drunkenly tried to keep the girl, who was on a footstool, from reaching into and pulling down a top-heavy cabinet.

“Standing order was for her to keep out of the cabinet,” he wrote. “I redirecteder and accidutly put her into ottoman (sic). My dexterity at that time was sub-par. The second charge,” the molestation, “I did not do.”

Prosecutors charged Scott with rape of a child in the first degree and assault in the fourth degree.

Scott wanted to take the case to trial, but instead he heeded the advice of his public defender, Angela Anderson, and avoided the risk of a longer sentence if a jury found him guilty of child rape.

Scott, who had no criminal history, entered an Alford plea to reduced charges of child molestation and assault, both in the second degree, in May. An Alford plea means Scott maintains his innocence, but he concedes there’s enough evidence that he could be found guilty at trial. It’s considered a conviction.

This month a Department of Corrections evaluator, Cassandra Kuestermeyer, wrote in a report that when she asked Scott to talk about the offense, he responded that there was nothing to talk about, because he “didn’t do anything.”

She concluded: “Mr. Scott takes no responsibility for his actions and denies he committed the offense.”

Under state law the standard sentencing range for a first-time offense of child molestation in the second degree is 21 to 27 months in prison. Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder sentenced Scott last week to two years behind bars.

Scott will need to register as a sex offender once he’s released.

Reach Caleb Hutton at 360-715-2276 or caleb.hutton@bellinghamherald.com. Read the Dispatcher blog at bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher-blog and follow him on Twitter at @bhamcaleb.

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