Crime

Bellingham man gets 6 years for sex abuse of girls

A Bellingham man must serve six years in prison for molesting a middle-school girl, a Whatcom County judge ruled this week.

A jury found Jason Ryan McCall guilty in March of child molestation in the second degree for sexually touching the teen at a Bellingham home.

Court records say McCall, 40, had been staying with the girl’s family in spring 2012 due to a fight with his wife. The girl told a teacher that over spring break she awoke to find him touching her inappropriately. She later told a Bellingham police detective it happened more than once.

A total of three incidents were reported by the girl, who was under 15, according to charging papers. As those allegations came to light, two others in the home — the girl’s mother and the girl’s cousintold police they had been woken up by McCall touching them on the leg or back. The mother alleged she woke up to find him touching her privates.

Four years later, the trial opened in late February 2016. The family members were questioned on the witness stand, and McCall testified, too, for about two hours.

Jurors deliberated for a full day and returned a verdict March 4.

McCall was convicted of two crimes against the two girls: child molestation in the second degree and assault in the fourth degree with a sexual motivation, a misdemeanor.

He was found not guilty of two other felony sex crimes, indecent liberties and child molestation in the third degree, as alleged by the girl’s mother and cousin.

McCall maintains his innocence. He contends the intimate relationship with the woman was consensual, and that the sexual abuse of the girls never happened, according to a Department of Corrections report from this month.

At a sentencing hearing Thursday afternoon, May 19, the younger girl struggled to speak to the judge. The deputy prosecutor, Shannon Connor, read a letter aloud on her behalf.

“I have trouble falling asleep at night,” she wrote. “I’m worried that if I fall asleep I’ll be woken up by someone touching me.”

All of McCall’s prior felonies — including unlawful possession of a firearm, meth possession and burglary — were committed over a decade ago. Connor and the public defender, Alan Chalfie, argued for the better part of an hour Thursday about convictions from the early 2000s, and whether they should be considered when deciding the length of a prison sentence.

In the end, Superior Court Judge Ira Uhrig sided with the prosecutor and sentenced McCall to six years and three months in prison, the maximum allowed under state sentencing guidelines.

McCall declined to speak at the hearing. His public defender, Chalfie, said he plans to appeal.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb

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