Convicted rapist pleads guilty to raping juvenile

A Central Point man, serving an 11-year sentence for raping two girls under the age of 18, pleaded guilty Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court to another rape of a juvenile.

Brad Gutches, 29, entered his plea to a single count of first-degree rape via video from an Eastern Oregon prison.

Judge Lorenzo Mejia sentenced Gutches to 100 months in prison, to be served concurrently with the 11-year Measure 11 sentence handed down by Judge Ron Grensky in September 2009. In the 2009 case, Gutches pleaded guilty to three forcible rape charges against two separate victims.

As part of the plea agreement, Mejia dismissed two counts of second-degree sexual abuse stemming from this latest incident, which occurred with a then-16-year-old victim in May 2007, said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Hoppe.

Because the sentence was imposed concurrently, Gutches will not serve any additional time in prison. Hoppe said he agreed to the plea agreement because he lost two key witnesses in the case, one of whom had died.

Brad Gutches' defense attorneys, Carl Caplan and Jeni Feinberg, said their client was making an "Alford Plea" — in which the criminal defendant does not admit the act, but admits that the prosecution could likely prove the charge.

Caplan said Gutches' case was "tryable," but he added the defense had concerns about how much of Gutches' prior criminal history might be allowed at trial.

Hoppe said the victim approved the plea bargain, adding Monday's conviction creates a three-strike, life-sentence liability for Gutches should he be found guilty of another rape.

While Gutches now has an additional conviction on his record, his father, Kent Gutches, won a victory of sorts when the court returned a portion of the bail money he had posted on his son's behalf.

After the 2009 conviction, Kent Gutches had waged a public battle for the return of $100,000 he had posted as bail for his son after the first incident.

His son made every court appearance, the criminal matter was resolved and the $100,000 should be returned, Kent Gutches said in previous interviews with the Mail Tribune.

Gutches said late Monday afternoon that the bail money, what was left of it, had been returned to him by the court.

Kent Gutches declined to state how much he spent in attorneys fees and court costs to get the money returned. But he previously stated he was spending $700 a month to cover the interest on the loan, in addition to $40,000 he had paid in attorneys' fees and other expenses. In a hearing in 2010, Kent Gutches testified that $40,000 of the $100,000 was his money, $10,000 came from Brad Gutches and $50,000 was put up by his brother.

Under Oregon law, all bail in criminal cases is viewed as the defendant's money regardless of who posts it. The bail notice states the person posting security may not see the money again for a variety of reasons as the bail funds may be applied to the defendant's unpaid fines, costs, assessments, restitution and other judgments and child support arrears.

"There's no law that says they can keep your money," Gutches said. "They just make you spend it all trying to get it back."

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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