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Prosecutors seek 41-year sentence, defense will urge 25-year term for convicted former Oregon prison nurse Tony Klein | #childpredator | #kidsaftey | #childsaftey


Prosecutors will ask a judge Tuesday to sentence former Oregon prison nurse Tony D. Klein to 41 years in prison, while his defense lawyers will seek a 25-year term after a jury found Klein guilty of sexually abusing nine women at Coffee Creek Correctional Institution.

Prosecutor Cameron A. Bell described Klein in a sentencing memo as a “sexual predator in a lab coat with access to some of Oregon’s most powerless women.”

Seventeen former and current prisoners of Oregon’s only women’s prison testified that Klein sexually assaulted them when they sought medical care or worked in the medical unit in 2016 and 2017.

They said he coerced some of them into performing oral sex or having sex with him in an exam room or closet. He also stood extremely close to prisoners, rubbed up against them, groped them, pulled their hair and placed their hands on his pants, the women said.

Defense lawyers argued that the women weren’t credible, pointing out that no staff or corrections officers ever walked in on or discovered the abuse. They told the jury that many of the prisoners conspired to fabricate the stories to get lucrative six-figure settlements from the state Department of Corrections.

A jury in July found Klein, now 39, guilty of 17 counts of subjecting nine prisoners to sexual abuse in custody and guilty of four counts of perjury for lying when he denied having any sexual contact with any incarcerated women in a 2019 civil deposition.

Klein, who was taken into custody immediately after the guilty verdicts, is being held at the federal prison in Sheridan. He’s set to be sentenced at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Portland.

Sentencing guidelines call for a life sentence, but prosecutors Cameron A. Bell and Gavin A. Bruce said Klein should face 30 years for the three victims whose cases led to aggravated sex abuse convictions, followed by 10 years for one victim of felony abuse, plus one more year for the five victims of misdemeanor sexual abuse.

“Anything less than 41 years’ imprisonment does not sufficiently reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment for the offense, or afford adequate deterrence to criminal conduct — both for this specific defendant and for others who may contemplate following in his footsteps,” Bell and Bruce wrote to the court.

They argued Klein’s lack of a prior criminal record makes his crimes more offensive, calling him a “calculating and manipulative man who knew right from wrong, a man who knew how to behave in society but deliberately targeted the most vulnerable of victims in a place where he had absolute control.”

Klein worked as a nurse at Coffee Creek in Wilsonville from 2010 until late 2017.

“A significant prison sentence is therefore necessary to demonstrate to the defendant’s former colleagues, as well as staff in any prison setting around the country, that there are severe consequences to sexually assaulting the inmates in custody,” the prosecution team wrote.

Many of the victims had been sexually abused as children or young women and the stress of testifying against Klein at trial led more than one of them to relapse into drug use, according to the government. Several testified they had used drugs the night before they took the witness stand. They described feeling “dirty,” “embarrassed” and “ashamed,” though they weren’t responsible for his abuse, Bell and Gavin wrote.

Klein maintains his innocence and his lawyers intend to appeal the verdict after his sentencing.

U.S. District Judge Michael H. Simon earlier this month denied separate defense motions seeking acquittal and a request for a new trial.

Defense lawyers Matthew G. McHenry and Amanda Alvarez Thibeault will argue for a 25-year prison term.

Any prison time will be significant for Klein because he’s “never been to prison before,” they told the court.

As a first-time felony sex offender, Klein also will face other consequences, such as restrictions on where he can live, work and how he’ll be supervised upon completion of any prison term, they wrote in their sentencing memo.

They urged the court to consider potential rehabilitation as a goal of sentencing, adding that a judge must “be hesitant before sentencing so severely that he destroys all hope and takes away all possibility of useful life.”

Defense lawyers were unsuccessful in arguing earlier this month in court papers that “no rational juror could find aggravated sexual abuse and bodily injury” for some of the allegations.

They also argued for a new trial based on what they said was new evidence, including responses to a subpoena from the company that ran the website Paper Dolls, where inmates post their photos so people outside can write to them and send them money, and recorded phone calls that one of the victims made from Columbia County Jail.

Klein’s lawyers said some prisoners who made allegations against Klein had sent sexual messages and photographs to people outside prison through the Paper Dolls website and that the women got money from multiple people after claiming to be in exclusive romantic relationships with each of the correspondents.

One of the women who testified against Klein, for example, asked someone she was exchanging letters with about “selling” semi-nude photographs of herself and if the person would act as her “pimp” by setting up a profile for her on Craigslist, according to court records.

The judge found the evidence was irrelevant and wouldn’t be admissible at trial.

When state police first approached Klein in 2017, he repeatedly asked what evidence they had and who was accusing him, according to prosecutors. After he resigned from his job at Coffee Creek while under investigation in 2017, he continued to mislead investigators, including telling the state Board of Nursing in September 2018 that he wasn’t under investigation for any law violation when he submitted a license renewal application, prosecutors said.

— Maxine Bernstein

Email [email protected]; 503-221-8212

Follow on Twitter @maxoregonian

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