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News >  Crime/Public Safety

‘High risk’ Tri-Cities sex offender sentenced to 22-plus years

July 26, 2022 Updated Tue., July 26, 2022 at 8:50 p.m.

By Annette Cary Tri-City Herald

KENNEWICK – A Kennewick man has been sentenced to just over 22 years in prison for cornering and raping a 12-year-old girl in a bathroom in summer 2018.

Skylar I. Nelson was about 18 and already a Level 3 sex offender at the time, according to court documents.

His attorney argued for a sentence of 11 years and 8 months based on his young age.

But Benton County Deputy Prosecutor Brittnie Roehm asked for 23 years and four months, according to the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office. She successfully argued that Nelson’s young age played no role in the crime.

Superior Court Judge Norma Rodriguez rejected the defense’s argument requesting a sentence below the standard sentencing range for second-degree child rape.

The pre-teen girl disclosed the rape to her grandmother in August 2019 and Nelson was identified through social media and arrested soon after.

She told investigators that she met Nelson at a skate park and went with him to an apartment. She said Nelson forced himself on her there.

She went into graphic detail for investigators of what happened, court documents said.

Nelson told investigators he befriended a group of young people including the girl, according to police.

Nelson admitted being alone with a girl in an apartment bathroom, but claims she went there willingly and that he thought she was 14 or 15, according to court documents.

Police said he is a transient living in Kennewick.

Nelson was a registered sex offender after being sentenced to two years in the state’s juvenile system. Police had arrested him when he was 14 on four counts of first-degree child rape and one count of second-degree rape.

After leaving the juvenile system, he had been arrested twice for not registering as a sex offender.

Kennewick police and Benton County sheriff’s deputies track sex offenders in the county, and Level 2 and 3 offenders who are transient are required to check in weekly and aren’t allowed to go to pools, parks, libraries or schools.

Levels are assigned based on a determination of how likely they are to commit another sex crime, with Level 3 the highest risk.

After completing the minimum sentence of 22 years, the state Indeterminate Sentence Review Board will decide whether Nelson should be released from prison based on the risk he poses to community safety.

If his release is granted, he will be subject to lifetime supervision by the state Department of Corrections.

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