December 21, 2013 in City

Plea deal avoids jail, sexual offender status

By The Spokesman-Review
 

A Spokane man won’t have to register as a sex offender or serve any time behind bars under a plea deal after being charged with molesting a disabled 14-year-old boy.

Anthony Ray Bumgardner, 54, lived next door to the boy, who has multiple disabilities including cerebral palsy. On Aug. 29, 2012, the victim went to his house, where Bumgardner touched the boy inappropriately and without his permission, according to the boy’s testimony.

The boy’s parents reported that over the next couple days he began to behave strangely. The victim began sleeping excessively and “appearing disturbed,” according to an affidavit. The boy’s mother asked if something had happened, and the boy told them Bumgardner had touched him sexually.

Bumgardner took an Alford plea in the case, meaning he maintains his innocence but recognizes that there may be enough evidence to convict him if the case went to trial.

Bumgardner was arrested on charges of third-degree child molestation, a Class C felony. However, the family’s attorney, Victoria Blumhorst, offered a plea deal to Bumgardner after the boy became highly agitated after a competency hearing last month, deputy prosecutor Patrick Johnson said.

“Testifying was really hard on this young man,” Johnson said. “He did his very best.”

The victim struggled to illustrate what happened to him at times, but with his mother acting as a translator, he was able to explain what Bumgardner did at the hearing, according to court records. Judge Kathleen O’Connor determined the boy was competent to testify in a trial, but Johnson said the boy became distressed following the hearing.

“I called the victim’s mom and she had some real concerns about her son having to testify again,” he said.

The family approved a plea deal with a lesser charge of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation. The charge is a gross misdemeanor. Bumgardner accepted the deal Dec. 13.

“He did get a bargain for sure, but it’s not a Class A (felony) to a speeding ticket,” Johnson said.

Bumgardner will be placed on probation for two years, according to court documents. He won’t have to register as a sex offender due to the lowered charge, Johnson said.

“The deal that we struck met with (the boy’s mother’s) approval,” Johnson said.

Johnson said Bumgardner maintained his innocence throughout the investigation and passed a polygraph test denying the charges.

“It would be a simple defense of ‘I didn’t do this; this kid misinterpreted something,’ ” Johnson said.

Bumgardner has no previous history of sexually motivated crimes, though he does have a felony conviction of vehicular homicide and three misdemeanor traffic violations.


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