Man who lured children from car to be sentenced

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 8, 2013 

A 45-year-old man could spend up to a year in county jail for convincing two boys to leave their locked car and taking them inside a Kennewick store to find their mother.

Christopher Stanley Olson didn't know the boys, ages 13 and 7, and didn't have permission to get them out of the car, which is why he reportedly claimed to be a firefighter.

However, Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said there's no information to show Olson intended to permanently take the boys or to harm them.

That's why Miller is expected to tell the court Thursday that Olson does not need to serve any more jail time so long as he continues with counseling to understand why his actions last July were wrong.

Olson has pleaded guilty in Benton County Superior Court to attempted unlawful imprisonment.

The charge is for trying "to knowingly restrain" the boys by taking them from their mother's car into Walmart without her permission.

According to court documents, the Kennewick man was in the Walmart parking lot around 1:45 p.m. July 21 when he saw two children in a car without an adult.

Olson "told them that he was a firefighter and that they had to go inside Walmart to find their mother, and that the mother was going to be arrested for leaving them in the car," Miller wrote in the original charging documents.

The boys were locked inside the car with the air conditioning on. The older boy reportedly had been left in the car to watch his sibling.

The younger brother began crying as Olson took them from the car into the store, documents said. The children were not hurt, but Kennewick police at the time called it a "potential tragic situation."

The mother had been inside the store for about 20 minutes with her 4-year-old daughter when the incident occurred.

She previously told the Herald that her parents had been parked about four spots down from her car for the first 15 minutes. She was preparing to check out when her oldest son called her from a cellphone, so she met them near the store entrance.

Authorities said the mother's actions were not illegal in leaving the boys alone.

Officers who interviewed Olson said he couldn't explain why he didn't call police if he was concerned about the boys' safety, except to say he didn't want police involved.

Olson had consumed nine cans of Mike's Hard Lemonade inside his car and was intoxicated when he flashed his wallet at the boys, as if showing official identification, and demanded they roll down a window.

He reportedly was wearing a T-shirt that identified a fire department from the west side of the state, but he is not a firefighter, police said.

Olson had been charged with unlawful imprisonment, but Miller said he agreed to the reduction because the evidence showed Olson was bringing the boys into the store to look for their mother.

"(Olson's) actions showed bad judgment and caused fear to the children and their mother," Miller wrote in explaining the amendment. "Counseling would be appropriate to correct this type of bad judgment and a criminal conviction with jail time will provide sufficient accountability."

After his arrest, Olson spent about a month in jail before he posted bond.

The judge can sentence Olson up to 364 days in jail. Miller said he will recommend Olson be given credit for time served and to have the rest of the jail sentence suspended on the condition he completes counseling.

Olson had been seeing a Richland counselor since last summer and has been given a continuing treatment plan that can be incorporated into the sentence, Miller wrote.

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