Prineville man sentenced 50 years for sex abuse crimes
A Prineville man facing multiple sex abuse charges involving a young child was sentenced to 50 years in prison during a court hearing Monday morning.
According to Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting, who prosecuted the case along with Chief Deputy District Attorney Raun Atkinson, 34-year-old Timothy Jay Gassner will not be eligible for any form of early release from custody, and he was sentenced to lifetime post-prison supervision and must register as a sex offender.
The sentence, handed down by Circuit Court Judge Daniel Ahern, was the result of a trial where the jury returned a guilty verdict on all 13 counts in early April. In reaching their verdict, the jury found Gassner had sexually abused his former girlfriend's young daughter when she was between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. The felony convictions of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration are informally referred to as Jessica's Law convictions. Under Oregon's Jessica's Law, a defendant convicted of committing these types of sex-related offenses against a child under the age of 12 must serve a minimum of 25 years in prison.
At sentencing, the state requested the court impose a 75-year sentence with no possibility of any form of sentence reduction and lifetime supervision and sex offender registration. However, Gassner's defense attorneys, John Susac and Jennifer Kimble, argued for a 25-year sentence, arguing that a 75-year sentence would violate the Oregon and U.S. Constitution.
"Like many cases involving ongoing sexual abuse at the hands of a family member or family acquaintance, the disclosure of the abuse by the child was delayed until after the perpetrator was removed from the home," Whiting said. "In this case, Gassner had threatened the physical well-being of the young child if she were to ever tell anyone. Approximately one year after Gassner was removed from the residence, the then 8-year-old victim felt safe to disclose to her grandmother that he had been sexually abusing her for years while her mother was working her graveyard shift. Upon hearing the child's disclosure, the grandmother immediately contacted the mother who in turn contacted the police."
Detective Brandin Noland of the Prineville Police Department led a two-month investigation, interviewed multiple witnesses, obtained physical evidence and arrested the defendant. KIDS Center provided support by conducting a forensic interview and medical evaluation of the child victim and then provided expert testimony at trial. In addition, the Oregon State Police crime lab provided two forensic scientists who testified regarding the DNA evidence recovered.
Gassner has maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest in September 2016 until the day he was sentenced. He chose not to make a statement at the hearing, and nobody spoke on behalf of the victim.
"The Crook County District Attorney's Office is appreciative of the outstanding efforts or our community partners in achieving a successful prosecution of this case," Whiting said.