Richland man to serve 12 years for child rape

Kristin M. Kraemer, Tri-City HeraldApril 20, 2013 

A convicted rapist who blamed a young girl for making sexual advances on him when he was drinking is going to prison for at least 12 years.

Thayer Snipes, 54, of Richland, was sentenced in Benton County Superior Court for his earlier guilty pleas to two counts of first-degree rape of a child.

Snipes was arrested in November 2011, the third time Richland police looked into allegations of sexual assault after getting a report from Child Protective Services.

On the two earlier contacts -- in March 2009 and June 2010 -- the girl didn't disclose any type of child abuse or sexual abuse. But she finally went to a teacher and a school counselor and shared how Snipes had been inappropriately touching her for at least a year.

Snipes, in an interview with detectives, said "it would not have happened" if she had not asked him for it, court documents said.

At the time, he admitted to touching her but denied doing anything more or forcing her to do anything. He didn't show any remorse or concern for the girl and blamed her for his actions, documents said.

When the victim opened up about the abuse, she told authorities she'd been writing in a journal about what Snipes had been doing, documents said.

Prosecutors said the sexual assaults started in August 2008. The girl reported she'd been raped as recently as the weekend before she talked to her teacher in late 2011.

Snipes had no felony criminal history.

The 12-year term ordered by Judge Carrie Runge is a mandatory minimum.

Snipes' ultimate release is up to the state's Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, based on his participation in sex offender therapy and counseling and his behavior while in prison. He could be locked up for life if the board believes he's a further risk to the community.

Once out of prison, Snipes must register as a sex offender and will be on community supervision for the rest of his life. He also was told he's never to contact the victim.

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