KENNEWICK -- A Kennewick man cried Friday as he acknowledged in court that he "made a terrible mistake" when he sexually assaulted a grade-school girl.
"What I did was a terrible thing, but it's not who I am, it's not what I want to do. ... I feel terrible that I put my entire family and my loved ones through this," Eric Jonathan Hansen said, as more than a half-dozen supporters sat behind him. "I can't imagine doing something worse to people that you love, and I pray that the effect this will have on (the victim) will be minimal."
Hansen, who turned 38 on Thursday, pleaded with Judge Vic VanderSchoor to give him the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative so he will have access to tools for treatment.
"I hope that the court will give me the chance to make this wrong right," he added.
Hansen pleaded guilty March 15 in Benton County Superior Court to one count of first-degree child molestation. He had no criminal record before this case, and faced a standard range of four years and three months to five years and eight months.
VanderSchoor agreed that the special program was suited for Hansen, given his lack of history and his acceptance of the charges.
Hansen, who has been in custody since his plea, was sentenced to a year in jail with three years and three months suspended. He will be supervised for the rest of his life, and any violations could result in Hansen serving the longer prison time.
Additionally, Hansen must participate in treatment with Michael Henry, a Richland sex offender therapist, and register as a sex offender.
"Mr. Hansen, you're very fortunate in some respects; you have a lot of support from family members. I'm certainly familiar with Dr. Henry's qualifications and his reports and he doesn't mince words and he doesn't give reports that people want to hear," VanderSchoor said, noting that Henry said Hansen is amenable to treatment. "It is a little unusual for me to do this type of sentencing for such a young victim, but I think it's appropriate in this case."
The molestation came to light in late 2011 when the girl told her mother about being inappropriately touched.
Hansen told Kennewick police that he touched the girl but said it was her idea, and he reciprocated only after she started kissing him intimately, court documents said. He denied doing anything else, but in a second interview, gave more details and revealed another incident, documents said.
On Friday, defense lawyer Tonya Meehan-Corsi said after reviewing police reports she believes her client never said the girl wanted it, but that it was a paraphrase made by the officer.
"(Hansen) stated that although she initiated it, it was his fault. He was the adult and he should have stopped it," she told the court.
Meehan-Corsi said Hansen has taken responsibility, and is the perfect example and the reason the SSOSA program was created. He is a good member of society, having worked since he was 16, and is a low risk to the community, she said.
Meehan-Corsi added that the victim and her family and Hansen's own family are supportive of the program recommendation, and his parents will help monitor as he goes through treatment.
Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra said her position through negotiations was if the victim's family, the state Department of Corrections through a presentencing investigation report and a treatment provider all felt that Hansen was receptive to treatment, she would not object to the sentencing request.
"I know the defendant is extremely remorseful for his actions," said Petra, who just asked that Hansen be required to serve the entire 12 months behind bars.
* Kristin M. Kraemer: 509-582-1531; email@example.com