KENNEWICK — Ryan Graichen was proud to be a Portland cop for more than eight years, telling the court at length Friday about his experiences on the force and how the stress eventually led him spiraling downward into a pornography addiction.
Now that he is a convicted sex offender, the Kennewick man said it pains him to admit he has a new designation as he starts a 10-year prison term.
"I can't help but feel it's changing my label. It's difficult to come to terms with," he said. "It causes me a great deal of pain, the fact that I will be a prison convict longer than I was a police officer."
Graichen, 36, sobbed as he spoke for 47 minutes during his sentencing in Benton County Superior Court.
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He said he was "incredibly sorry" for approaching girls under 18 for sex acts in Kennewick's Columbia Park and paying an underage girl to participate in sexual activities at his home.
He told the prosecutor and detective on the case he can't imagine it was easy for them having to investigate and try one of their own, even though he has not been a police officer for six years.
He thanked his mother, late father, family and friends for their prayers, love and support during the past 13 months, even though he made poor choices and brought embarrassment to his name.
And Graichen apologized to the four victims -- two of whom were in court -- and said he hopes the end of the case brings some rest and closure to their fears.
"There's been some misconception that I'm not remorseful. That when I cry it's not for them too. And nobody that thinks that has not been with me in my cell every day when I repent, and I am remorseful for what I have put them through," he said.
Graichen was instructed to make his comments to Judge Vic VanderSchoor on the bench, instead of turning around and facing the victims.
"I am so sorry for approaching you. ... I was completely out of line in my proposals. It was out of my character and I am sorry I placed you in a position of victimization. It certainly was not my intent," he said. "Not a day has passed in this past year where I have not thought about my actions. I wish I could take them back but I can't. ... I owe the young ladies sitting behind me the greatest of apologies, and I am truly sorry for what I did."
Graichen pleaded guilty in October to two counts of sexual exploitation of a minor and five counts of commercial sex abuse of a minor.
The 10-year recommendation was part of the plea agreement reached between Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra, Graichen and his defense lawyer Nicholas Jones.
Graichen first approached a teen girl and her boyfriend in Columbia Park in May 2010. He repeatedly tried to get the young couple to come back to his home, where he would give them beer, marijuana and $500 if they would perform sex acts or let him masturbate, court documents show. The couple said no and walked away.
The girl reported it to Kennewick police a month later.
In June, he confronted two other girls in the park and asked if they liked to party and smoke weed, documents show. His offer included $200 for each girl to star in a pornographic movie with him, and he reportedly opened his wallet to show a large bundle of $100 bills.
The girls declined, walked away and called police.
Graichen was not identified as the park suspect until December 2010.
Petra said Graichen has a sick sexual fetish and has demonstrated "deviant compulsive behavior." She told the court, before Graichen spoke, that he has shown zero remorse and zero acknowledgment of his crimes.
"He is so far gone in his fantasy that he probably thinks these girls wanted him, and that is what makes his behavior so deviant and strange," Petra said.
Officers searched Graichen's home after his arrest and seized his computers.
That is when investigators learned of an underage girl who Graichen had met through a Craigslist ad in June 2010. Graichen never asked for identification to show her age, and on each encounter he gave her $100 to $300 for everything from modeling to sex, according to court documents.
Petra described that victim as a troubled young lady who needed money for school supplies, a cellphone and food.
Officers also found in Graichen's home illicit videotapes and pictures of the girl taken before she turned 18, documents said.
"When these incidents took place, when I approached these young ladies (in the park), I did not at the time realize the gravity of what I was doing. What I was doing was wrong morally and ethically. I knew that I was turning my addiction into something that I was trying to make real," Graichen said.
He said he had no idea of their actual age based on their appearance.
"Your honor, I don't mean for this to diminish this in any way, but ... I truly did not know that these individuals were minors," he added.
"However, it's not a defense and I am guilty. I am guilty of the charges that are against me. I take full accountability. ... It was my own ignorance in not validating their age and making the statements that I did. It's completely my fault."
The teen who had the first run-in with Graichen in May 2010 told VanderSchoor that the crime has affected her in a different way than she expected.
"I guess it made me feel like I was dirty. That I didn't really ... I didn't look like I was a lady or something," she said, admitting that she was choking up and at a loss for words. "I have little sisters and I take them down to the park all the time, and I want to go down there and feel safe. ... I just feel really bothered by it, by the whole situation."
One of the young women in the June 2010 proposition said she now is a single mom and does not want to leave the house with her baby. She said she thought Graichen was going to try to take her away that day, and now is too scared to go with her baby to the park alone.
"I was scared that he got the license plate number or followed me to the apartment where I was living with my kid's dad at the time," she said. "It shouldn't have affected me as hard as it did, but it did."
Jones said in representing Graichen since the outset of the case, he has come to know his client as a gentleman who had many positives in life before these crimes.
Graichen worked for the Portland Police Bureau from 1998 to 2006. During that time, he claims he responded to a high number of violent crimes and developed post-traumatic stress disorder.
Graichen resigned amid a disciplinary investigation for videotaping girls' private areas during a school basketball game and dance while he was a school resource officer.
Jones said his client's machismo prevented him from getting the help he needed, so Graichen dealt with his issues by self-medicating with adult pornography on his computer.
"You start to, I guess, lose that high and that initial hit isn't enough and you've got to do a little more, and got to do a little more, and do a little more," Jones said. "He turned to this addiction and didn't get the treatment he needed at that time."
Graichen, who spent a large portion of the time talking to the court about his police service, acknowledged that maybe because he is a former officer he should have known better.
He said he was in a dark place at the time, had turned his back on his faith and had contemplated suicide.
He said when he was arrested he feels like a higher power stepped in, slapped him on the face and "pulled me from the shadow of the valley of death."
"I'm just so thankful that God intervened in my life, your honor. That I'm alive. That I get a second chance to make good, to be a good, productive citizen, to be lawful. To be the Ryan that gets to worry about weeds in his lawn," he said, referencing how that used to be the biggest concern in his life before his porn and sex addictions.
VanderSchoor told Graichen he didn't have a lot of discretion with his sentence. He wished him good luck.
"I'm sure, Mr. Graichen, the opportunities that are going to be before you for the next several years are not the ones that you thought would be before you years ago. But they're still opportunities, nonetheless," VanderSchoor said. He encouraged Graichen to get counseling and treatment in prison so his "efforts at self-improvement can continue."