Tuesday, November 27, 2007

WA - Former Tacoma cop, girlfriend plead guilty to child rape

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A retired Tacoma police officer and his girlfriend face what could amount to life sentences after pleading guilty to child-sex crimes. Pierce County Superior Court Judge Bryan Chushcoff accepted the pleas of Lee William Giles Jr. and Maureen Elizabeth Wear on Monday.

Giles, 63, and Wear, 47, each pleaded guilty to one count each of first-degree child rape, second-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation and third-degree assault.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will recommend sentences of just more than 19 years in prison for both defendants.

But the terms of confinement will be left open-ended. That means Giles and Wear can’t be released from prison until they serve the 19 years and a state review board then decides they are no longer a threat to society, deputy prosecutor John Sheeran said.

Chushcoff will sentence Giles on Jan. 4. Wear’s sentencing was set for Dec. 28.

Sheeran said he was willing to make a deal with the pair to guarantee a conviction and spare the victims the trauma of going through a public trial.

Giles had been charged with 26 crimes, Wear with 17.

“There would have been a lot of graphic evidence introduced had the case gone to trial,” he said. “The victims’ families are supportive of this resolution.”

The investigation began after a male relative of Wear’s told authorities he’d been abused by the couple for years.

Detectives searched the retired police officer’s home on North Proctor Street and seized videotapes that showed Giles and Wear sexually abusing the boy and two girls related to Giles, according to court records. The victims ranged in age from 3 to 16, the records state.

The crimes were particularly shocking because Giles was for years the face of the police department, reaching out to the community on radio, television and through the schools.

Among other duties during his 30-year career, Giles was assigned to the “Harvey, the Talking Motorcyle” program, a police program in elementary schools aimed at making officers less scary.

In court Monday, a haggard-looking Giles – who wore his long, white hair in a ponytail – answered Chushcoff’s questions in a quiet voice and replied, “Guilty, sir,” four times when the judge asked him how he intended to plead to the reduced charges.

He then was led back to the Pierce County Jail, where he’s been since his arrest.

Giles’ attorney, Michael Schwartz, said after court that his client took the deal to “not only put this behind him but put it behind the members of his family as well.

Wear’s attorney, Bret Purtzer, said his client likewise took the deal to “get out of this disaster” and give herself a chance to one day walk out of prison.

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