WARRENTON — Carl Hagnas’ generosity is visible. He is a well-known handyman who often passes out candy to children he encounters while performing small jobs and volunteer work.
Less visible, though, were the sex crimes he allegedly continued to commit following a 1986 sex abuse conviction.
Hagnas, 68, was arrested Friday and charged with 12 counts of first-degree sex abuse and one count of second-degree sodomy. He pleaded not guilty Monday. Circuit Court Judge Paula Brownhill set bail at $500,000.
In addition to the sex abuse conviction, Hagnas also was found guilty in 1991 on two counts of manufacturing and delivery of a controlled substance.
An indictment alleges that Hagnas committed eight acts of sexual abuse from 1992 to 1996 against one girl, all before her eighth birthday. Those alleged crimes were not reported to authorities until 2005.
Victims often spend lengthy amounts of time speaking to police, who then search for evidence of a crime before bringing the case to the district attorney. Since the case against Hagnas would have relied solely on hearsay in 2005, law enforcement officials declined to make an arrest. Without charging someone with a crime, authorities are limited in their ability to restrict someone’s access to children.
“It’s just an accusation. It may be true. It may not be true,” Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis said. “There’s a process that’s often maddening for victims to go through, but they have to go through it.”
Meanwhile, Hagnas continued to foster his reputation through volunteer work and by handing out candy to children. He was particularly known for helping to clean up the much-maligned Ocean View Cemetery, and many referred to him as the “candy man.”
Ten years after the 2005 report, Hagnas allegedly committed five more sex crimes against two other girls under 13 years old. Those acts were allegedly committed on cemetery grounds.
The new crimes were reported in fall 2015. The reports from different sources, though separated by a decade, strengthened the case.
“Having the two cases support each other like that really bolsters each case,” Clatsop County Sheriff’s Detective Ryan Humphrey said.
But police still had work to do.
For the next year and a half, police continued to talk to witnesses and alleged victims. Because of the lengthy process that had led to nothing at that point, those involved in reporting the crimes in 2005 were skeptical. Much of that time was spent repairing relationships.
“It can be difficult sometimes when they don’t trust law enforcement’s ability to do anything,” Humphrey said.
Families of the victims, who were friends with Hagnas, were aware of the allegations and able to keep the children away from him. Because he was no longer viewed as a danger to the alleged victims and due to the need to mend relationships, other cases with higher risks for danger to victims took priority.
“It’s kind of a slow process,” Humphrey said. “Unfortunately that’s just a judgment call that I have to make.”
Humphrey was finally able to submit the case to the District Attorney’s Office for review about a month ago, leading to last week’s indictment and arrest.
When Marquis spoke at Hagnas’ arraignment Monday, it marked the beginning of a case a quarter century in the making. Hagnas’ volunteer work and generosity will be largely irrelevant in court proceedings. Instead, the District Attorney’s Office will build a case based on the alleged continuation of Hagnas’ dark past life.
“Your honor,” Marquis said, “Mr. Hagnas has a long, concerning history.”