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Hammond fisherman indicted on sex charges

Astoria man allegedly also involved
By Jack Heffernan

The Daily Astorian

Published on November 30, 2017 5:22PM

Dennis Lee Sturgell Sr.

Dennis Lee Sturgell Sr.

James Herbert Cunningham

James Herbert Cunningham

A well-known Hammond fisherman and an Astoria man have been indicted for sex crimes against a young woman two years ago.

Dennis Lee Sturgell Sr., 65, of Hammond, and James Herbert Cunningham, 46, of Astoria, were indicted by a grand jury last week. Sturgell was arrested and released on $500,000 bail, while Cunningham is serving prison time for a previous case.

The indictments allege that in August 2015, Sturgell and Cunningham coordinated to commit several sex crimes against the woman while she was incapacitated. Both men were charged with 13 counts that include sexual abuse and sodomy. Cunningham’s charges include two counts of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse, while Sturgell’s counts include two charges of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration.

If convicted on all charges, Sturgell faces a minimum of 62 1/2 years in prison, while Cunningham would serve more than 58 years.

Oregon Assistant Attorney General Erin Greenawald, who has expertise in domestic and sexual violence crimes, will prosecute the case, along with the Clatsop County District Attorney’s Office.

Sturgell’s arraignment has been scheduled for January. Cunningham has not yet been scheduled for arraignment.

While Cunningham’s extensive criminal history includes arrests for violent crime and drugs, Sturgell’s history includes dozens of fish and game misdemeanors and violations. He is known as an often polarizing figure among commercial fishermen, according to a 2008 San Francisco Chronicle story about his experiences. His crabbing career brought him from the Oregon Coast to Alaska and the San Francisco Bay Area.


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