A Seaside man was sentenced to 20 years in prison Friday for encouraging child sex abuse.

Joshua Allen Pickering, 36, pleaded guilty to eight counts of encouraging child sex abuse in the second degree. He was originally charged with 18 counts for possession of child pornography.

Pickering has a long criminal history in Clatsop County, including numerous arrests and charges related to sex abuse and assault.

District Attorney Ron Brown argued that Pickering is anti-social and has not been open to treatment. He called three witnesses to the stand in court to testify to Pickering’s behavior, including his mother.

Jail staff described Pickering as challenging to work with and volatile and threatening when he doesn’t get what he wants.

His mother told the judge she fears her son and believes he is dangerous.

“When we’re talking about sentencing, most of the time we’re talking about trying to figure out a way to make the person whole, to make the defendant a productive and law-abiding citizen,” Brown said. “But with some people, we find that we have to just look to protection of society.”

Pickering’s attorney described a childhood of abuse and unstable housing beginning when Pickering was removed from his home at 9 years old.

According to testimony, Pickering lived in St. Mary’s Home for Boys in Beaverton, Oregon State Hospital and a group foster home before coming back to Clatsop County as a teenager.

His attorney said Pickering has been homeless off and on and has not received sufficient mental health treatment.

Pickering asked the judge for “mercy” and suggested a 10-year prison sentence.

“I just really want to be able to show the court that I am not a lost cause. That I am not a monster or an animal, and that I do want to be a better person,” Pickering said.

Judge Cindee Matyas said that, given his criminal history, Pickering qualifies for a sentence of life in prison, and described the reduced sentence as a gift.

“I don’t view you as a monster,” Matyas said. “I view you as a very complicated, tragic individual. I have a lot of compassion for you, and how you got to this point. I also know that it is very difficult to supervise you in the community.”

Matyas said she is not assured he will engage in the treatment he needs without a “reboot” in prison. She said prison may be a blessing in disguise because it can offer him a structured environment and a measure of success.

“You do have different sides,” the judge said. “It’s complicated how our personalities can develop based upon our experiences in life. And you have another side that is dark, very dark.”

Nicole Bales is a reporter for The Astorian, covering police, courts and county government. Contact her at 971-704-1724 or nbales@dailyastorian.com.

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