The testimony of a 7-year-old girl was instrumental in the conviction of 54-year-old Kenneth Eugene Inman of Brookings Thursday on first-degree felony sodomy charges.
The jury took about 40 minutes to deliberate before returning an 11-1 guilty conviction in the case; in Oregon, a 12-person jury must have at least 10 jurors to convict.
Judge Cynthia Beaman then sentenced Inman to 25 years in prison – the largest sentence District Attorney Everett Dial has seen handed down in Curry County – with no chance for a reduction in time, early parole or time off for good behavior. Inman was also convicted, 10-2, on harassment charges.
“The victim … it was a hard process,” said Assistant District Attorney Jake Conde, who prosecuted the case. “It was difficult for her to talk about these things. She did better on the stand than quite a few adult victims, better than she should have had to.”
The girl was stoic throughout the trial, but reportedly broke down in tears when she left the courtroom.
The sexual acts took place between June and July 31 last summer, at the friend of the victim’s house where the two children would play.
The second girl’s family had befriended Inman about six months earlier. The victim’s 11-year-old brother first tried to report what was happening after he witnessed Inman trying to get his sister to perform sexual acts on him and trying to remove her underwear. The victim repeatedly told Inman to stop.
He went to his mother, Conde said, who didn’t understand what he was trying to say. Shortly thereafter, the victim made some inappropriate comments that aroused her mother’s suspicions.
The lengthy sentence is required under voter-approved Measure 11 statutes, that require mandatory sentencing for such felonies. Those convicted of sodomy on those over the age of 12 are required to serve 100 months in prison; those convicted of sodomy on those younger than 12, to 300 months in prison.
Conde said he didn’t know to which prison Inman would be transported.
“When you’re working with a child, you can’t scrimp,” Conde said, when asked how many hours his financially strapped office had put into the case. “If you’re not willing to invest the time – prepare the child, get ready for the grueling process that is a trial – you are planning to fail.”
The victim had the support of the Bikers of Child Abuse, who obtained counseling for the girl, rode alongside the family car on their motorcycles to Gold Beach for the two-day trial and sat through the proceedings.
“Extensive legwork was done by Det. Tyler McCourt (Brookings Police Department),” Conde said. “And Donna Dotson (a child advocacy official) laid all the groundwork, did all the forensic interviews. A lot of people really stepped up to make this happen.”
Inman has had no prior convictions, but there “had been allegations” in Jackson County of this sort of behavior in the past, Conde said.
“This just shows how the hard work they did really helps protect the community,” Dial. “They did an incredible job.”
Conde was visibly impressed with the victim’s bravery.
“I was pleased she was able to come forward and the jury found her credible,” Conde said. “He (Inman) definitely won’t be preying on other children.”