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Defense argued Jason Hatch was abused, seeking treatment; prosecution argued he was manipulative.

SUBMITTED PHOTO - Jason Hatch was sentenced to 25 years and five months in prison for sexual abuse and child pornography.Jason Robert Hatch was sentenced to 25 years and five months in prison for sexual abuse and possessing child pornography Tuesday, Sept. 1, in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

Hatch's attorney, Ricky Nelson, argued for leniency in the sentencing of the 41-year-old Madras man, saying he was a victim of abuse himself and had sought counseling on his own, while Deputy District Attorney Brentley Foster described Hatch as manipulative and likely to reoffend.

Hatch pleaded no contest to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and five counts of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse.

A fourth charge of first-degree sexual abuse and 27 charges of second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse were dismissed, according to a plea agreement.

Madras Police began investigating the case after they were contacted by Albany police.

A woman from Albany told police she had met a man on the dating website Plenty of Fish, and he told her he had raped a girl in Madras about five years earlier, Foster told Judge Annette Hillman.

Through subsequent conversation, Hatch named three children he had sexually abused, Foster said. Police interviewed two of them, who disclosed the abuse. A third was too young to be interviewed, but police corroborated that Hatch was with the child when and where he had told the woman the abuse had taken place.

Detective Steve Webb, who assisted with the investigation, said police found 705 photos and about 25 video clips of child pornography on Hatch's hard drive.

Police interviewed Hatch twice, and between those interviews, he looked at child pornography at least 60 different times, Webb said.

"And this was 60 times after law enforcement had contacted him?" Foster said.

"Yes," Webb answered.

He also testified that Hatch claimed to be gay, but later told a friend via Facebook that he was only saying that because of something one of the victims had said.

Two of the victims' mothers also gave statements.

"I would ask that you give these kids some justice and put Jason in jail for as long as you can," one said. "... He's ruined my life ... All he is a drain on society, and I would ask that you do the maximum penalty."

The other echoed those thoughts, asking for justice for the victims "and for all the children who haven't been recognized yet."

"It was really heartbreaking to read these police reports and read the initial contact that law enforcement had with these parents," Foster said.

She added that Hatch had multiple text conversations with the woman from Albany, including one after he found out she had reported him.

"You ruined my life, and now I will ruin yours," he said, adding that he was just trying to role-play. "Now my family thinks I'm a sick freak because of you."

Foster said about four days after he was arrested, law enforcement discovered text messages on his phone to two young women.

The doctor who evaluated Hatch "found it highly concerning" because he was able to give answers according to what was expected, Foster said.

"The examinee presents as a complicated case for community-based interventions," the doctor wrote.

The doctor noted that Hatch displayed "suspicion and lack of candor" and may have been "trying to manipulate to make himself look better."

Nelson disagreed with Foster's interpretation of the doctor's report, saying that in one of the evaluations, Hatch was "described to be a below-average risk."

"Mr. Hatch had no stability or support structures in any systems," Nelson said.

"He has no criminal history prior to this," Nelson said.

But, he said, Hatch has cognitive deficits, significant abuse, trauma and lack of education.

"None of this detracts from what he did," Nelson said. "None of this makes it OK, none of this makes it excusable. However, it does show that he is receptive to treatment."

Nelson said that Hatch was honest with law enforcement about his victims and his addiction to child pornography.

Nelson argued that Hatch should serve 75 months in prison, after which he could undergo treatment.

Foster had asked for Hillman to consider Hatch's disregard for laws in deciding Hatch's sentence, requesting a total of 385 months in prison.

"Although Mr. Hatch's history again does not detract from any of his actions, this is why treatment and additional counseling services for him will be beneficial and actually work in this instance," Nelson said.

"He's been exceptionally remorseful, multiple times indicating how disgusted he is at himself," Nelson said, "at his actions, at the things that he thought and did prior to this instance. He goes back ... and sees how some of those traumas led him to make those bad decisions."

Nelson said Hatch was placed in foster care between the ages of 5 and 7.

"He was placed in eight different homes within his first year and was again abused in those placements," Nelson said.

Hatch was abused by other foster parents and by residents of a group home. He ran away and was then expelled when he was 17, which meant he couldn't finish high school.

"... he was subjected to countless incidents of physical, emotional, mental and sexual abuse himself," Nelson said. "Mr. Hatch, in reflecting upon that, is even further disgusted by his actions. He sees how what he did just perpetuated the cycle of abuse rather than cutting it off."

Nelson asked that if Hillman would not consider the minimum sentence, that he would argue for 150 months in prison, saying he didn't believe the state's request was appropriate given that Hatch had sought treatment.

Hatch then made a statement of his own.

"No words can express how sorry I am or how sick I feel for my actions," he said. "I know that no amount of apologies will make up for my actions. I would do anything to show how sorry I am. I wish that I could take everything back. I can only hope that one day you can find it in your heart to forgive me."

He apologized to his family and to his cats.

Then he spoke directly to his victims.

"To all the victims, this was not your fault," Hatch said. "You did nothing wrong. I feel really bad and always will. I hope all of you will forgive me one day. I am devastated over my actions toward you all. Don't let my actions prevent you from enjoying life. ... I am ashamed of myself, but I will never, ever download (the videos) again or reoffend if I ever get released ... because it is wrong on so many levels.

"... I am not a monster, but I saw the potential of being one eventually, so I decided to stop everything and seek help from Best Care."

He described a plan to learn how to cook, drive, get a GED or high school diploma and study graphic design and coding, as well as to fix his teeth and eyes and lose weight.

"My counselor always said I acted so negative," he said.

Hillman said the state had not proven "a substantial and compelling reason to depart" from sentencing guidelines.

She sentenced Hatch to 306 months in prison, with eligibility for early release because of good behavior or other programs. She also left open the possibility for the state to request restitution for Hatch's victims.

"Mr. Hatch, I realize there is evidence — or statements — before me that you were a victim yourself, sir, and I can only imagine how that felt for you," Hillman said. "But then you turned around, sir, and victimized others instead of seeking treatment early on. And you violated others as you yourself were violated. That cycle does have to stop, sir. There is a point that the court has to not only protect the public but also punish you as an offender. Thus the sentence in this case."


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