A former Vernon, California, police officer was sentenced Tuesday to 10 years to life in prison after a Spokane jury convicted him on two counts of molesting a 7-year-old girl.
Mark A. Moen, 58, was arrested in January 2017 after the girl reported to her mother that Moen had molested and raped her over a several-month period in 2016 while he baby-sat her and her brothers at her house.
Moen is also the registered owner of Plesant Prarie Wee Care, a sole proprietorship with an address that matches his home address in the 9300 block of East Morgan Road, near Orchard Prairie.
While Moen has owned the business since 2002, according to business license records, an online search of Washington Department of Children, Youth and Families’ licensed child care facilities shows no record of Plesant Prarie Wee Care.
Moen’s wife, Doris Moen, said she is an early-childhood educator and that the business has been closed for more than a decade. She said her husband’s involvement was minimal.
Cpl. Mark Gregory, spokesman for the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office, said Detective Brandon Armstrong, the lead investigator on the case, determined the day care was closed down a year or two before the investigation began. Armstrong did not believe there were additional victims.
A jury in late January found Moen guilty on two counts of first-degree child molestation, while finding him not guilty on two counts of first-degree child rape. He also was found guilty of unlawful imprisonment.
At his sentencing hearing Tuesday morning, Judge John Cooney handed Moen a mandatory 114 months for the two molestation charges and 29 months for the imprisonment charge, which will run consecutively, before he qualifies for parole. A special sexual crime enhancement required he be sentenced an extra year.
Moen’s son and wife spoke on his behalf, asking Cooney for a lighter sentence. They described him as a devoted family man who worked for more than a decade as an officer in Vernon, just south of Los Angeles.
“He showed compassion to drug addicts and alcoholics that other officers lacked,” Mark “Buddy” Moen Jr. said. “During this same time, when his sister my now deceased aunt was addicted herself and couldn’t take care of her own children, my father stepped in and provided for them, becoming for all intents and purposes their father too.”
Loris Moen said she was “blindsided” by the allegations against her husband.
A woman who spoke on behalf of the victim said Moen “violated” their trust “beyond belief.”
“I’m sorry but I can’t begin to describe the impact and devastation it has brought to our family,” she said.
Jim Wohlt, a former co-worker of Moen’s at the Vernon Police Department, said news of the conviction came as a shock to him and several others who hadn’t heard from Moen after he moved to the Inland Northwest sometime in the early 1990s. Before leaving, Wohlt said Moen had been promoted to sergeant.
“I’m just totally surprised at this,” he said. “We had no knowledge this was like him.”
Representatives from the Vernon Police Department and its human resources did not return calls and emails seeking comment Tuesday.
Editor’s note: This story was changed on March 21, 2019 to add information about Plesant Prarie Wee Care.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.