Benton County Superior Court: Life sentence possible for convicted rapist

A 36-year-old man convicted of raping a child could spend the rest of his life in prison.

Jason Benjamin Foster will serve more than 11 years in prison before a review board determines if he should be released. Foster was sentenced Tuesday by Judge Carrie Runge in Benton County Superior Court.

After Foster serves his 135-month minimum sentence, the board will review his behavior in prison and any treatment he receives, prosecutors said.

Foster will be held in custody if officials feel he is at risk to reoffend. The board would then review his case every two years.

The sentence Runge handed down Tuesday was above the standard range for Foster's crime. An aggravating circumstance that Foster was in a position of trust when he committed the crime allowed the judge to impose an exceptional sentence.

The standard range is 93 months to 123 months.

The strength it took the victim -- who was 9 when the crime happened -- to face Foster on the witness stand helped put him behind bars, Runge said in court.

"You chose the wrong victim because, frankly, this girl is one of the most articulate (victims) I have seen in my career in the criminal justice system," said Runge, who called Foster's crime "horrendous."

Foster was convicted by a jury in October of first-degree rape of a child.

The girl's mother came home and saw Foster touching her daughter, according to a pre-sentence investigation report. Prosecutors believe the abuse happened one time in June 2012.

When questioned by Richland police, Foster eventually admitted to sexually abusing the girl, the report said. He told investigators he did it because he was curious and the act gave him "butterflies in his stomach."

Prosecutors say Foster planned the abuse and gave back rubs to the victim to make her comfortable with him.

"From the moment he met this child, he was grooming her," said Prosecutor Anita Petra. "It was methodical and then he committed the act. It scared the child so much she told her mother right away."

Foster believes he should go to prison and remain there until it's safe for him to live in the community, the report said. He told Runge, "I am sorry," before he was sentenced. Foster has asked for treatment in prison.

Runge believes Foster doesn't fully accept what he did and his crime was more than just a "momentary lapse in judgment," she said.

The community corrections office who wrote the pre-sentencing report on Foster agreed.

"He is not taking full responsibility for what he did to the victim, nor addressing how he violated his position of trust," the corrections officer wrote. "It is hoped during his confinement, and through sex offender treatment, he will be able to come to terms with his actions."

If Foster is released, he will be on lifetime Department of Corrections supervision. He will have to register as a sex offender and have no contact with minors.

-- Tyler Richardson: 582-1556; trichardson@tricityherald.com: Twitter; @Ty_richardson