Pedophile on the lam for 8 years back in jail

ASHLAND — An Ashland pedophile who pleaded guilty to child sex abuse in 1997 but fled the country before serving a 75-month Measure 11 prison sentence, is back in the Jackson County jail after more than eight years on the lam.

Arthur Samuel Silverman, now 70 years old, was a former counselor who treated sexually abused children when he was arrested in December 1996 for molesting two boys who were not clients. Silverman pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree sexual abuse on June 25, 1997, said District Attorney Mark Huddleston.

Silverman is scheduled to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court Tuesday at 1:45 p.m. He faces 75 months in prison for each guilty plea. Huddleston said the state agreed at the time the two counts could run concurrently.

"I don't know if that can change, or should change," he said. "But that's the minimum (sentence.)"

Silverman was extradited from Israel on Thursday and returned to Jackson County Friday afternoon, he said.

Silverman fled the country after receiving a Measure 11 sentence, which required him to serve a minimum of six years, three months in prison.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Loren Sawyer in 1997 had originally sentenced Silverman to 120 days in jail for the two guilty pleas. But that sentence was appealed by the district attorney's office because it did not match the Measure 11 standards. Sawyer, a vocal critic of Measure 11's inflexible sentencing requirements, had previously handed down several sentences in which he did not give the time required by the new law, Huddleston said.

Silverman failed to appear for his sentencing hearing on May 4, 2001, after the Oregon Court of Appeals overturned Sawyer's ruling and ordered that Silverman be resentenced. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Silverman and, in November 2000, Oregon voters rejected an effort to repeal the mandatory sentencing law.

Police knew Silverman had fled to Israel several years ago, but he could not be extradited under the law at the time, Huddleston said.

"We tried to get an extradition earlier, but the treaty between the United States and Israel was an older treaty did not allow for extradition where the victims were boys," he said.

"Congress signed off on a new treaty with Israel. By that time we'd lost him again."

Israeli police say Interpol helped them track down Silverman in November 2008. The international police agency told Israeli police Silverman's wife was flying to Israel to visit him. According to an Israeli newspaper report, police made the arrest after following Silverman's wife, who took a taxi from the airport directly to his home in Netanya.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 776-4497 or e-mail

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