The former owner of White City Metals will spend more than 16 years in prison for sex crimes involving two young women -- one of whom was 17.
Donald James McLaughlin was sentenced to 200 months Tuesday after a hearing filled with emotion in Jackson County Circuit Court.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Terry Smith-Norton recounted the experiences of the two women, who were abused in 2004 and 2012, and told Judge Lorenzo Mejia that McLaughlin allegedly had made several attempts to offer one victim $10,000 for her silence.
A young woman Smith-Norton later identified as McLaughlin’s daughter stood up and interjected, “That’s such bulls--t!”
The woman shouted expletives at the victims and deputy district attorneys until a sheriff’s deputy escorted her out of the courtroom.
A unanimous jury on Jan. 18 found McLaughlin guilty of multiple sex crimes, including first-degree sodomy, first- and second-degree sexual abuse and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration.
One of McLaughlin’s victims was a woman who had been picking up a check for her boyfriend at McLaughlin’s White City Metals office in the 7100 block of Crater Lake Highway in fall 2012 when McLaughlin “pinned her down into a chair and forced oral sex on her,” Smith-Norton said.
The 17-year-old victim was abused at the home of a friend during a party where alcohol was served sometime around September 2004. Smith-Norton said a man at the party twice intervened, pulling McLaughlin off the victim after he’d pulled down her pants.
When the victim became “hysterical” in the bathroom and vomited, McLaughlin continued to pursue her, Smith-Norton said. The man who pulled McLaughlin off the girl stepped in a second time and took McLaughlin home.
The victims attended Tuesday’s hearing but did not speak. Instead, Smith-Norton read letters they’d written.
The 2004 victim wrote that she “would never have told anyone” if it weren’t for the efforts of Jackson County sheriff’s Detective Steve Bohn, who came to her doorstep while investigating a 2016 incident involving a third alleged victim.
“I had no intentions of facing this man,” her letter read, until Bohn told her “he harmed another girl.”
Smith-Norton called the verdict against McLaughlin “hard fought,” because a previous trial had ended in mistrial in 2018.
Charges surrounding a third victim, allegedly abused in 2016 after she’d stayed behind on McLaughlin’s property while her father was hunting, were dropped midway through the earlier trial.
Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Bohn said the sheriff’s office spent months looking into 10 alleged victims — in some cases the statute of limitations had run out, and other cases were dropped because the victim was afraid to come forward.
Smith-Norton called it “terribly hard” for abuse victims to testify against their abuser. After Smith-Norton escorted the victims through the back of the courthouse Tuesday, a brief confrontation ensued between a victim and an extended family member outside the courthouse.
During the hearing, defense lawyer Jesse Barton made motions for a mistrial, saying the two victims’ cases weren’t properly joined and should have been tried separately. Barton argued that the victims were allowed to sit in on the hearing and “bond” with the jury.
Mejia denied the motion.
“I don’t think anybody is going to walk out of here happy,” Mejia said, telling McLaughlin a moment later, “I really do think you took advantage of people you knew who were susceptible because of their drug use.”
White City Metals in October was renamed Rogue Metals & Supply and is now owned by Pat Throop and Throop Family Holdings, according to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office. McLaughlin had also owned Klamath Metals in Klamath Falls, according to earlier news reports.