Blaine man could serve life in prison for molesting girl under 6 years old

A Blaine man must serve at least 4 years and 4 months in prison for molesting a young girl, a Whatcom County judge ruled Monday, Aug. 8.

A jury found Ryan Scott Gehr, 35, guilty of first-degree child molestation in June. She was younger than 6.

The allegation came to light in March 2016, when the girl asked her mother if she could take a shower with her. The mother told her no, because that wouldn’t be appropriate. The girl countered that Gehr let her take showers with him six months earlier.

The girl’s mother confronted Gehr and told him to take a lie detector test, through a private service, before he could see the girl again, according to court records. The test came back inconclusive. Gehr, an alcoholic who drank about a half-gallon of liquor a day, reported he wasn’t feeling well because he’d abstained from drinking, according to police reports. So before a second test he drank 24 oz can of malt liquor and a 16 oz can of Busch Light — which a detective later told him could seriously affect the results. He passed the second test, and the girl’s mom didn’t call police.

However, the next day other family members contacted a Blaine police detective. Gehr denied molesting the girl.

“I Am not Gulity of this crime, And will do whAtever it tAkes to prove it (sic),” he wrote that day in a statement to Blaine police, according to court records.

The girl gave a lengthy forensic interview where she recounted her ordeal. Gehr told her to keep it secret, or else the police would take him away, she reported.

Jurors started hearing the evidence at trial June 8. Superior Court Judge Deborra Garrett ruled the lie detector tests weren’t reliable enough to be presented to the jury. Court records show the deputy prosecutor, Evan Jones, made a nine-minute opening statement, and played a videotape of the girl’s forensic interview. The state’s final witness stepped down before 3 p.m.

Only one witness, Gehr, was called by the public defender, Richard Larson. Gehr took the stand for a total of 8 minutes, including cross examination by the prosecutor. He maintained that he’s innocent.

Jurors started deliberations around 11:30 a.m. June 9. By the following morning they reached a verdict of guilty on one count of child molestation in the first degree.

Last week the defense asked for a new trial, claiming the girl recanted in late July.

Garrett denied the motion this week. She ordered Gehr to a minimum of 52 months in a state prison — at the low end of the standard range, 51 to 68 months, suggested by state law. Once he has served that time, a Department of Corrections sentence review board will decide if he will be released. If he’s found unfit for release, he could be held in prison for the rest of his life.

Gehr plans to appeal.

Caleb Hutton: 360-715-2276, @bhamcaleb