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Vernonia man pleads guilty in child sex abuse image case; Clatskanie man pleads guilty in assault case

Columbia County District Attorney Jeff Auxier announced sentences in two criminal cases earlier this month.

Scott Allen Skeels was sentenced to eight years after pleading guilty to six counts of encouraging child sexual abuse.

Skeels, 44, was arrested in November 2020 and initially charged with twenty counts of various charges relating to child sex abuse.

The Vernonia Police Department and the Oregon Department of Justice had served a search warrant in Vernonia almost two months prior, after a tip was sent to the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, the Columbia County Sheriff's Office previously stated.

"Skeels initially came to the attention of law enforcement when he uploaded child sex abuse images to an email account, prompting police to execute a search warrant on his digital devices and email," the DA's Office stated in a press release earlier this month. "The search that followed uncovered additional evidence of him attempting to record compromising images of a local 7-year-old girl. Forensic analysis showed that Skeels was in possession of child sexual abuse images, more commonly known as child pornography."

"Every time a child is exploited in this way, they are victimized not only once, but again and again as the images are traded among predators," Auxier stated in the press release.

Columbia County Detective Dave Peabody and Special Agent Tyler McCourt from the Oregon Department of Justice led the investigation, and new deputy district attorney Kristen Hoffmeyer handled the court case.

"Considering the lifetime of insecurity these survivors have to contend with, a substantial prison sentence is appropriate," Hoffmeyer said in the press release.

Auxier also announced a 7½-year sentence for Stephen Brown of Clatskanie, who was charged with assault and unlawful use of a weapon after allegedly beating his fiancée with a 4-foot aluminum level.

Deputy Collin Brehm investigated the case, wherein the victim was hospitalized for her injuries.

Brown, 52, was arrested in June, and pleaded guilty to one count of assault in the first degree in late September.

"Collin and Kristen did great work on this case," said District Attorney Jeff Auxier. "Because of their efforts, Mr. Brown will be confined to a place where he can't hurt other women."

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