The former security supervisor for The Spokesman-Review pleaded guilty Thursday to three sexual assault charges that could keep him in prison for life.
Robert J. Robel, 61, pleaded guilty to first-degree rape of a child, second-degree rape of a child and first-degree child molestation. Robel agreed to the plea after a second victim came forward, which could have produced more charges, Deputy Spokane County Prosecutor Edward Hay said in court.
Superior Court Judge Maryann Moreno set Robel’s sentencing for Oct. 14. As part of the plea, Hay and Assistant Public Defender Steven Reich agreed to seek a sentence of 18 years to life.
But even if Moreno agrees to the 18 years, Robel could be in jail longer. After 18 years, the state’s Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board would review the case every two years and could decide to keep Robel prison for the rest of his life if it determines he is still a danger to the community, Hay said.
Robel was arrested on Sept. 5, 2008, at the newspaper’s downtown office. The charges were not related to his employment, but company officials immediately suspended him.
According to court records, Robel sexually abused a girl between 1993 and 2003. The other girl who came forward, who is now an adult living out of state, reported similar assaults when she was between the ages of 6 and 13.
As part of the plea agreement, Hay agreed to drop a charge of second-degree child molestation, he said.
Robel, who will remain in custody, only answered questions posed by the judge and offered no other comment.