Crime

Persistent sex offender could face life behind bars after raping boy

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Learn direct ways to talk with kids from the non-profit Darkness to Light that is committed to empowering adults to prevent child sexual abuse.

A persistent sex offender could be looking at life behind bars after a Benton County jury found him guilty of sexually assaulting a young boy.

Eric R. Stalford, 39, was convicted Friday of first-degree rape and two counts of first-degree child molestation.

Court documents show that the boy first revealed the sexual abuse to his mother in early May 2018, though it had been ongoing for a couple of years. He gave graphic details about what Stalford did.

Detectives contacted Stalford about the allegations and set up a polygraph exam in May 2018. However, his wife contacted police that day and said she hadn’t seen her husband for two days, documents said.

Investigators discovered that Stalford caught a flight from Pasco to Salt Lake City.

He was captured in Oregon on an arrest warrant in October and returned to the Tri-Cities to face the charges.

“Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra has developed an outstanding statewide reputation for getting justice in difficult cases like this,” the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office wrote Friday in a Facebook post. It also praised Kennewick Detectives Brian Pochert and Randy McCalmant.

“But most of the credit goes to the brave child who disclosed the abuse, and then testified in court in front of his abuser,” the post continued.

Stalford will return to court Oct. 3 to schedule a sentencing date.

His criminal history includes convictions out of Oregon for first-degree sexual abuse, attempted first-degree child abuse and failure to register as a sex offender.

Kristin M. Kraemer covers the judicial system and crime issues for the Tri-City Herald. She has been a journalist for more than 20 years in Washington and California.
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