'Sexual predator' gets 21 life sentences

'Sexual predator' gets 21 life sentences

A Medford man with previous convictions in Oregon and California for sexually abusing children has been sentenced to 21 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Richard Lee Taylor is "nothing short of a sexual predator," said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney Adam Peterson. "He is a danger to any community."

Peterson asked for the life sentences under an Oregon sentencing guideline that allows prosecutors to seek a life sentence if a person is convicted of a third felony sex crime.

Circuit Court Judge Tim Barnack agreed, and handed down the life-without-parole sentences Friday against Taylor, 59, of the 700 block of Nobility Drive, Medford.

"You are a bad person," Barnack said. "You will rot in prison."

In October 2011, Taylor was found guilty of five counts each of using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, first-degree sexual abuse and second-degree sodomy; and three counts each of first- and second-degree encouraging child sexual abuse. He was sentenced to life on each of the 21 counts.

Taylor previously served a short prison term after pleading guilty to lesser charges in the same case, but Barnack said significant new evidence made it possible to reopen the case. Taylor also has a past conviction for sexual abuse in California, prosecutors said in asking for a life sentence.

Taylor's public defender, Andy Vandergaw, objected to the life sentences, saying the particulars of his client's California conviction were not fully known to the court. Vandergaw requested a lesser sentence for Taylor.

Before sentencing, Peterson read a letter from one of the victim's parents. Her son, the woman wrote, is no longer a "sweet, loving child."

Instead, he is filled with hard-hearted anger over the loss of his childhood, Peterson read.

"... never let this individual be able to do that to another child again. Make a statement to all thieves of children's innocence," the letter continued.

Barnack excoriated Taylor during Friday's sentencing, telling him he didn't belong outside a prison cell, and community members would wonder why he wasn't hanging from a tree.

Taylor will spend the rest of his life in a cell where he can think about the harm he has done the victims, Barnack said, while repeatedly asking Taylor if he wanted to save his soul.

Taylor showed no remorse, stating he had "nothing to say."

"I don't think you have a soul," said Barnack. "We are going to make sure you never get out."

The case began in October 2009 when word reached a local school official that Taylor had sexually abused two 12-year-old boys. Medford sex crimes detectives found that Taylor was a family friend of one victim's parents.

The boys were not fully cooperative with police in the initial investigation, so Taylor pleaded guilty to attempted sexual abuse and escaped a long prison sentence. He was sentenced to one year in jail and released in October 2010. Upon his release, he contacted his former brother-in-law, who had cleaned out Taylor's apartment and stored his belongings, to reclaim his possessions.

The brother-in-law found about 30 mini-DVDs used in video cameras among Taylor's belongings. When he viewed one, he found child pornography recorded on the discs and went to police. The recordings showed Taylor sexually abusing the victims in the previous case, who this time fully cooperated with investigators.

Barnack said jurors had thanked him for stopping some of the video shown during the trial, and asked him afterward if there was counseling available for jurors.

Barnack said he had to tell them there wasn't.

Medford police Detective Stephanie Smith said the case was one of the most difficult she had ever investigated, in large part because of thousands upon thousands of disturbing child pornography images.

"It is important to note the two boys — how brave they were to come forward," Smith said. At least one of the boys was present in the courtroom.

Barnack praised the efforts of Peterson and Smith for their work in the case, but he, too, saved his highest praise for the victims.

"I see courage. I see power," he said after reading their statements. "You actually are heroes because you took a predator off the street."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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