By Natalie Johnson
A 19-year-old Twisp resident has pleaded guilty and is awaiting sentencing in Okanogan County Superior Court on four felony charges of sexually abusing a child.
Jedidiah McMillan was first charged in the case in November 2019. On March 16 of this year, he pleaded guilty to four class A felony counts — first-degree rape of a child, first-degree child molestation, and two counts of indecent liberties with forcible compulsion.
According to court documents, the crimes occurred in 2015, when McMillan was about 14 years old, with the victim being a minor significantly younger than he was.
The Methow Valley News does not identify minors who are victims of crimes, or victims of sexual crimes.
According to court documents, the victim reported in 2019 that McMillan had sexually assaulted her several years earlier, and that he had told her not to tell anyone. After law enforcement became involved, McMillan reportedly gave a statement confirming a majority of the victim’s allegations.
Sentencing is currently scheduled to take place on May 11 in Okanogan County Superior Court, but special prosecutor Jonathan Meyer, the elected prosecutor in Lewis County, said this week that the Okanogan County Prosecutor’s Office has not determined exactly what sentence it will recommend to the judge.
The Prosecutor’s Office at one point considered a resolution to the case involving no jail time and no criminal record for McMillan, while the state Department of Corrections (DOC) has recommended a 20-year prison sentence. McMillan’s attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
The maximum penalty for a class A felony in Washington is life in prison or a $50,000 fine. However, a combination of the person’s criminal history, judicial discretion, consideration for the circumstances of the crime itself and other factors combine to make the issue much more complicated.
Early this year, Meyer was appointed as a special prosecutor after Melanie Bailey was appointed to serve as Okanogan County Prosecutor, following the resignation of Arian Noma.
Meyer took over McMillan’s prosecution from David Stephens, who has since left the Prosecutor’s Office.
Before Meyer took on the case, the prosecution and defense had discussed a stipulated order of continuance (SOC), meaning the case would have been delayed for, in this case, two years, and if McMillan had met conditions — for example, not being accused of another crime — the case could have been dismissed, staying off his criminal record.
According to court documents, McMillan wanted to join the military, and the SOC would allow him to do that. Meyer said it was clear when he took over that the victim’s family did not agree with that outcome.
“I read the case and I read what the proposed resolution was and I was like, yeah absolutely I understand why you’re mad,” Meyer said in an interview last week.
Now, the Prosecutor’s Office is pursuing a sentence under the state’s Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA). Like the Drug Offender Sentencing Alternative, a person sentenced under SSOSA gets a prison term, but all or a portion of the term is suspended provided that person meets certain conditions, including completing treatment and staying out of trouble.
If a person reoffends or doesn’t complete treatment, a judge could sentence them to the full term in prison.
“SSOSA is meant to protect the public and coerce compliance,” Meyer told the Methow Valley News. “I looked at how long ago it was and also his age at the time. If it had been reported right up front, he would have been a juvenile when he was charged and the juvenile system is meant to be rehabilitative rather than punitive.”
A report from the state Department of Corrections indicates a SSOSA sentence of one year has been considered. Meyer said the details of the sentence, including any time spent in custody, hadn’t been finalized as of last week. A judge has the discretion to reject a SSOSA recommendation or a sentence negotiated as part of a plea bargain.
The sentencing hearing is currently scheduled for 1:30 p.m., May 11.
In a presentence report conducted by the state Department of Corrections, DOC staff came to a different conclusion about sentencing, recommending instead that McMillan be sentenced to 198 months in prison for the first-degree rape and two indecent liberties charges, and 240 months for the first-degree child molestation charge. If the sentences run concurrently, that would mean a 20-year prison sentence.
“Though Mr. McMillan has admitted to the crime and expressed remorse, he also minimized the crime by stating he was a curious 14-year-old kid,” the report concludes. “Mr. McMillan is requesting to be sentenced to a SSOSA sentence with no jail time, so he can get back to work and move forward with his life.”
The DOC also recommended 36 months of supervision by its staff following release from prison.
As part of its pre-sentence report, the DOC interviewed the victim’s family and McMillan. McMillan reportedly told investigators that he had also been sexually abused for years starting as a young child by teens who were about the same age as he was when he committed these crimes.
“I did wrong,” McMillan is quoted as saying in the DOC report. “People were hurt. But I was a stupid young kid, who was a victim himself. I’m doing better now, but I’ve had time to process. Whatever the Judge sees fit to give me, I will accept.”
While the DOC concludes that McMillan could benefit from counseling and other treatment, it ultimately recommended against the SSOSA sentence and for a lengthy prison term. According to the report, McMillan refused to name the people he accused of molesting him or pursue charges.