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Kristin Stickler pleaded guilty to two counts Tuesday: second-degree sexual abuse and online corruption of a minor.

COURTESY PHOTO: JEFFERSON COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE - Kristin Elaine SticklerA Madras woman accused of sexual abuse of a minor has pleaded guilty to two charges and was sentenced to 40 months in prison Tuesday, June 23.

Kristin Elaine Stickler, a 26-year-old former Jefferson County Middle School educational assistant and track coach, pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree online sexual corruption of a child. The victim was 13 years old, and the abuse lasted from December 2018 to April 2019.

In a sentencing hearing late Tuesday, Judge Michael Adler sentenced Stickler to 22 months in state prison for the Class C felony charge of second-degree sexual abuse and 18 months for the Class B felony charge of online sexual corruption of a child. Those sentences are to be served consecutively, resulting in a 40-month total. She was also sentenced to 60 months of post-prison supervision, minus time actually served, on the sexual abuse charge and three years of post-prison supervision on the corruption charge. In addition, she is required to pay $10,000 to the victim in the case, and she will have to register as a sex offender.

She must turn herself in by July 15.

District Attorney Steve Leriche said in a press release, "Under the present system, often the only way to achieve the sizeable sentences the public wants to see in these types of cases is to force the case to a trial that would require a child victim to testify in open court, a process that can add further trauma for victims."

He said he has to balance holding the offender accountable with not subjecting the victim to further distress, "which is why it is so important to ensure that a victim or victim's family is consulted throughout negotiations and has a voice in the process."

"This result was achieved after a daylong settlement conference presided over by Senior Deschutes County Court Judge Michael Adler in which both sides were strongly encouraged to resolve the case," said the press release from Leriche's office. "After consulting with the victim's family, the state agreed to the resolution in order to avoid forcing the young victim to have to testify publicly and to prevent the case from being further delayed in the court system as a result of court closures and unavoidable case backlogs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Additional sex offense allegations and an allegation of allowing a minor to remain in an area where unlawful activity involving controlled substances was conducted were dismissed pursuant to the negotiations."

The Madras Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office began investigating allegations that Stickler was having an inappropriate relationship with a student April 22, 2019.

"Stickler's conduct was discovered after a parent reported to staff at Jefferson County Middle School that Stickler had attempted to add her teenaged son on Snapchat, a social messaging app," the press release said. "Subsequent investigation revealed that Stickler had added several students on the app and developed a relationship with her victim through interacting with the victim at school, messaging through Snapchat, sending nude pictures of herself to the youth and allegedly consuming marijuana with the youth. Stickler's conduct culminated in having oral sexual intercourse with the victim. District Attorney Steve Leriche noted that Stickler engaged in classic grooming behaviors that work to build trust and an emotional connection with a child or young person in order to manipulate, exploit, and abuse them for the offender's own gratification."

Jefferson County School District 509-J placed Stickler on administrative leave and barred her from any interaction with students, District Attorney Steve Leriche told the Pioneer last June.

She was arraigned on June 21, 2019, and was booked and released from the Jefferson County Correctional Facility after posting $25,000, 10% of the total bail amount.

Under the plea agreement, 10 charges will be dismissed: five counts of first-degree sexual abuse, three counts of second-degree sexual abuse, one count of second-degree sodomy, and one count of endangering the welfare of a minor.

"Multiple members of Stickler's local church submitted letters of support on her behalf," the DA's press release said. "It was unclear whether these supporters were aware of the full scope of Stickler's behavior against her 13-year-old victim. Leriche states that it was unfortunate that adults would choose to support an adult sex offender over a child victim but added that such support is not uncommon, as one reason sex offenders are so often successful in hiding their crimes is because they present themselves as upstanding members of the community and are able to manipulate supporters into believing that such a good person could never commit the crimes for which they are charged.

"Leriche provided multiple examples of Jefferson County cases in which adults in positions of trust and authority in the community used their positions and access to children to commit their offenses," the release continued, " such as former Madras High school track coach Melissa Bowerman's conviction for sex abuse in the second degree; former Madras Police Officer John Joseph Wallace Jr.'s convictions for attempted sex abuse in the first degree and official misconduct; former Madras High School girls basketball coach David Osborne's convictions for four counts of sexual abuse in the second degree; and former foster parent Gary Clift's convictions for sexual abuse in the first degree, multiple counts of attempted sexual abuse in the first degree, and multiple counts of encouraging child sexual abuse in the first degree.

"Stickler's guilty plea achieves closure for the victim and the community and leaves no doubt as to the nature of her conduct," the release concluded.

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