Crime

Birch Bay man gets 6 years for sex abuse of preteen girl

A Birch Bay man must spend six years in prison for the sexual assault of a preteen girl, a Whatcom County judge ruled Wednesday, March 23.

Ray Anthony Hollis, 21, walked over to a neighbor’s house in Birch Bay on a Saturday night, Aug. 15, 2015, when the girl’s mother wasn’t home.

According to a statement written by the girl, Hollis came over uninvited, but she and her sister felt too scared to make him leave. So, she wrote, they watched a movie until Hollis fell asleep.

As she got ready for bed in the bathroom Hollis put his hands on her hips, she told sheriff’s deputies. Minutes later, she reported, Hollis came into her bedroom and raped her. After a few minutes she told him to stop, and he stopped, according to charging papers. He came back about 30 seconds later, she told sheriff’s deputies, but she told him no and he didn’t touch her again.

A deputy spoke with Hollis — who was “obviously high on drugs,” the deputy wrote — but could not get him to answer more than a couple words at a time. Hollis said he was “really faded.” He denied raping the girl.

A sexual assault exam found injuries to the girl’s vagina. Hollis was charged with rape of a child in the second degree.

Later, in an interview with the Department of Corrections, Hollis claimed he’d gone to his neighbor’s house that night to take a few bottles of alcohol, and that the girl made up the charges because she didn’t want to get in trouble for drinking with him.

Hollis pleaded guilty in January to reduced charges: two counts of indecent liberties and one count of burglary in the first degree.

Court records show Hollis had been diagnosed with schizophrenia as a child in Moses Lake, but he believes it is post-traumatic stress, from growing up in a gang-ravaged neighborhood of San Francisco.

As an adult, Hollis has one felony on his record, for residential burglary. He also has been convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors.

Hollis was sentenced last week by Superior Court Judge Charles Snyder. After the fact, however, attorneys realized Snyder had been disqualified from hearing the case in January due to an affidavit of prejudice, a preemptive legal motion to prevent a possible conflict of interest.

So Hollis was sentenced again on Wednesday morning — to the same prison time he’d been ordered to serve last week. Once he’s released, he’ll have to register as a sex offender.

Hollis maintains his innocence. He told Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett he pleaded guilty to avoid a more severe sentence.

“The reason I went through with all this is, it’s all about my age, you know?” Hollis said. “I don’t want to spend 25 years of my life in jail. That’s kind of why I accepted everything. It’s not because I feel guilty, because honestly I don’t feel guilty.”

The judge asked if he had anything else he wanted to say.

“I just hope the family’s all right,” Hollis added. “We were very close.”

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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