By Sanne Specht
A convicted serial pedophile filed an appeal on the multiple life sentences handed down by a Jackson County Circuit Court judge months before the Oregon Supreme Court sanctioned the judge over comments he made at the man’s sentencing, court records show.
In October 2011, a jury found Richard Lee Taylor, 60, of Medford, guilty of five counts each of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sodomy; and three counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse. The jury found each count to be a separate and distinct incident of abuse, which laid out the foundation for the life sentences, said Jackson County prosecutor Adam Peterson.
In January 2012, Judge Tim Barnack sentenced Taylor, who had two previous convictions in Oregon and California for sexually abusing children, to 21 life sentences without the possibility of parole.
Barnack said Tuesday that Taylor had received due process during his trial, and that he had sentenced Taylor based on statutory requirements. Barnack declined further comment, noting he still has jurisdiction in the case.
Peterson said filing an appeal is “standard practice in all criminal cases of this sort.” A notice of appeals must be filed within 30 days, Peterson said, stressing he has received no notice that Taylor has been granted a retrial or a resentencing.
“I absolutely agree with the jury’s verdicts in this case, And I feel justice was done for the victims,” Peterson said.
Barnack was sanctioned by the state Supreme Court for berating Taylor during the sentencing. Barnack, a former Jackson County prosecutor, called Taylor a “piece of s–” when he declined to comment or apologize at the sentencing. Barnack then continued to excoriate Taylor, telling him he didn’t belong outside a prison cell, and community members would wonder why he wasn’t hanging from a tree.
Barnack’s comments resulted in a sanction from the Supreme Court. The court said his behavior violated the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct which requires a judge to “observe high standards of conduct so that integrity, impartiality, and independence of the judiciary are preserved.” Barnack has since apologized to the court, and has taken steps to prevent a recurrence, the court stated in its censure.
Taylor previously served a short prison term after pleading guilty to lesser charges in the same case, but Barnack said significant new evidence made it possible to reopen the case. Taylor also has a past conviction for sexual abuse in California, prosecutors said in asking for a life sentence.
Taylor’s public defender, Andy Vandergaw, objected to the life sentences, saying the particulars of his client’s California conviction were not fully known to the court. Vandergaw in January requested a lesser sentence for Taylor. He did not return calls for comment Tuesday.
At the sentencing, Peterson described Taylor as “nothing short of a sexual predator.” Saying Taylor was “a danger to any community,” Peterson asked for the life sentences under an Oregon sentencing guideline that allows prosecutors to seek a life sentence if a person is convicted of a third felony sex crime.
The case began in October 2009 when word reached a local school official that Taylor had sexually abused two 12-year-old boys. The boys were not fully cooperative with police in the initial investigation, so Taylor pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse and escaped a long prison sentence. He was sentenced to one year in jail and released in October 2010.
But while cleaning out Taylor’s apartment following his release, his brother-in-law found about 30 videos that included child pornography. The recordings showed Taylor sexually abusing the victims in the previous case, who this time fully cooperated with investigators, leading to the new trial and the life sentences imposed by Barnack.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in Medford Mail Tribune.