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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Tape, videos help convict child molester

A 51-year-old child molester practically convicted himself Wednesday of systematically abusing a girl throughout much of her life, from age 11 to 18.

Robert Alvin Sexsmith didn’t take the witness stand, but jurors in his Spokane County Superior Court trial heard Sexsmith discuss the crimes in a secretly recorded conversation with his victim.

Jurors also watched videotapes of Sexsmith committing the crimes that may send him to prison for much of the rest of his life. The jury took about four hours to convict him as charged in five counts.

Testimony indicated Sexsmith recorded himself having sex with the victim, now 21, and with her older stepsister, who is 26. He couldn’t be charged with abusing the older woman because of the statute of limitations, but she testified against him.

Sheriff’s Detective Kevin Bechtold recorded a Nov. 3 conversation between Sexsmith and the victim under court authority, and Deputy Prosecutor Kelly Fitzgerald played portions of the tape when trial testimony got started last Thursday and again Wednesday during her closing argument.

The victim testified that she felt Sexsmith threatened her life indirectly when she was young.

“He has often said that he would much rather go to jail for murder than for the things he did to me,” she said.

In November’s taped conversation with the victim, Sexsmith admitted he put his “secret needs” first, but he tried to persuade her that what he did wasn’t bad.

“I just want you to feel we shared something and that it wasn’t dirty and it wasn’t gross and it wasn’t disgusting,” he told her. “… To me, it was a beautiful experience that I shared with you, and I’m glad that I did get to share it with you.”

The abuse began with a comforting hug that led to sexual touching while the pubescent girl’s mother was out playing bingo. Then Sexsmith progressively introduced the girl to a variety of sex acts.

Sexsmith was convicted of five felonies, including three counts of second-degree child rape for various forms of sex to which he introduced the victim before she was 14. An independent landscaper, Sexsmith committed the crimes in Airway Heights and Spokane Valley.

In addition, jurors convicted Sexsmith of two counts of possessing sexually explicit depictions of minors for purposes of sexual gratification. The depictions were videotapes in which the victim identified herself having sex with Sexsmith.

The victim’s stepsister also identified the victim in those tapes, but Assistant Public Defender Doug Boe presented testimony that the person having sex with Sexsmith could have been an adult girlfriend.

Dianne Hill, who is Sexsmith’s brother’s girlfriend, testified that she was “75 percent” confident the partially obscured woman in the video was the defendant’s former girlfriend. But Hill said she never knew Sexsmith’s former girlfriend to wear a “pinky ring” like the one the victim pointed out in the tape as one she wore.

The former girlfriend wasn’t asked to testify.

Fitzgerald said a standard prison term for Sexsmith could range from about 23 to 68 years, depending on whether sentences on each count run concurrently or consecutively.

The deputy prosecutor said she will ask Judge Sam Cozza to impose above-standard punishment when he sentences Sexsmith on July 29. But a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year left uncertainty about whether judges have that authority.

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