A former North Medford High School student who was facing a mandatory six-year prison term was instead sentenced Wednesday to 24 days in jail and five years’ probation after pleading guilty to sex charges, including third-degree rape, in cases involving three young teenage girls, two of them middle-schoolers.
Despite a firestorm on social media, a prosecutor described the resolution as what the teen victims wanted.
Joshua Thomas Campos, 19, was sentenced on felony counts of attempted second-degree rape, third-degree rape and second-degree sexual abuse Wednesday in Jackson County Circuit Court, after admitting last week to sexual contact with three underage victims between January and October of 2017.
A charge of second-degree rape, which under Oregon’s Measure 11 laws carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six years, three months, was dismissed as part of his plea agreement.
Second-degree rape is defined as having sex with a person under the age of 14 and third-degree rape involves a person under the age of 16.
The disparity between the sentence Campos faced versus what he received elicited outrage on social media, primarily on the more than 49,000-member Jackson County Scanner Group on Facebook. More than 200 comments were posted about the plea deal, including, “This makes me physically sick!” and “I hope a parent gets a hold of him.” One called it “so so wrong” and another said “unfriggen real.”
Senior Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton, who prosecuted Campos’ case, described it as “not what we would have hoped for” had the case gone to trial. But a trial, she said, was the last thing the three girls wanted. The girls were described as a high school freshman and two eighth-graders.
The case began in January, after a friend of the victims contacted the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Smith-Norton said. At least two of the juveniles initially denied Campos did anything wrong before reluctantly disclosing more information. Smith-Norton said she believes the victims faced peer pressure for testifying against a popular senior.
Smith-Norton described Campos as a “big man on campus” at North, and said the victims likely looked up to him. That, she said, likely was behind the girls’ reluctance to testify against him.
“Only one of the parents chose to participate,” Smith-Norton said, adding that the parent approved of Campos’ plea agreement. “None of these girls were very pleased about having to go through this process.”
Smith-Norton described age-related rape cases as “difficult cases” that are “hard on the victims.” The victims have to testify in detail about what happened in front of their abuser in a public hearing.
“That’s not an easy thing to do,” Smith-Norton said.
At Campos’ Aug. 23 settlement conference, Smith-Norton said she knew the state couldn’t move forward without the cooperation of the victims, so her goal was to hold Campos accountable while avoiding a trial.
“We tried to give him an opportunity to comply with some pretty strict conditions,” Smith-Norton said. “Given the circumstances with the girls and their feelings, it was the resolution we were able to come to at the settlement conference.”
Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Benjamin Bloom followed the sentence as negotiated between Smith-Norton and Campos’ lawyer, Jeni Feinberg. Campos will be required to register as a sex offender and must complete sex offender treatment. If Campos fails to comply with the terms of his probation, he faces four years in prison, according to his sentencing brief.