A jury found Douglas Pitt of Warrenton guilty of sexually abusing two four-year-old girls in 2001 Thursday.
Pitt had been convicted of the crimes in 2002, but his case was thrown out because the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2004, in Crawford vs. Washington, that the victims had to appear in court. Their statements couldn't be used as evidence against the accused. Pitt has remained in custody.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said a lot of prosecutions are going to be difficult to take forward following the ruling by the high court.
The two girls - each now 10 years old - appeared in Clatsop County Court to provide testimony this week. The girls didn't appear in court for the first trial.
Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown said it's tough to walk into court and testify against somebody who's sitting there, and especially so for a child.
As 4-year-olds, the girls were assessed at The Lighthouse - the Clatsop County Child Abuse Assessment Center - where Dr. Joann Stefanelli determined they had been sexually abused.
Brown said Stefanelli was essential to repeating the conviction. Stefanelli no longer works at The Lighthouse, but made herself available for the trial. The case's original prosecutor is no longer with the DA's office and witnesses have moved away. He said it's always difficult to try old cases. Without Stefanelli and the testimony from the two girls, he couldn't have proceeded.
Brown also said this is the first case in Clatsop County where a jury is involved in the sentencing process. He said they presented their verdict of guily on two counts of first-degree sexual penetration with a foreign object, and two counts of first-degree sexual abuse Wednesday evening. Then Clatsop County Circuit Court Judge Philip Nelson sent them back into chambers to decide if the incidents were "separate criminal episodes." Separate criminal episodes happen on separate days and receive consecutive sentences.
They determined that the episode did involve separate criminal episodes, so Pitt faces 200 months in prison. His sentencing hearing has not been scheduled.
Pitt now faces retrial in Lane County in November. The witnesses are expected to testify in that trial too.
Brown said if that trial were to begin today, a loophole in Oregon law would allow Pitt to testify that he had not been prosecuted for sexual abuse.
He said the conviction isn't on his record until he is sentenced. So, Clatsop County is asking Lane County to postpone Pitt's trial until after he is sentenced here.