Oak Harbor man faces life for raping young girls

Richard Tice Sr., a 63-year-old Oak Harbor resident, appears at a hearing in Island County Superior Court Thursday. He was sent to prison for raping two young girls.  - Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times
Richard Tice Sr., a 63-year-old Oak Harbor resident, appears at a hearing in Island County Superior Court Thursday. He was sent to prison for raping two young girls.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland / Whidbey News-Times

A 63-year-old Oak Harbor man who raped two young girls will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

During a hearing Thursday, Island County Superior Court Judge Vickie Churchill sentenced Richard Tice Sr. to an indeterminate sentence of 12 years and three months to life in prison. That means Tice Sr. will have to spend a minimum of 12 years and three months in prison and then a special review board will decide whether he should be released.

Churchill speculated that the board will never release Tice Sr. after what he’s done.

“I think this is a life sentence for you and it’s a sad ending,” she said.

Likewise, Senior Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme said Tice Sr. is in poor health and won’t likely live long enough to be released.

Tice Sr. pleaded guilty July 7 to two counts of first-degree rape of a child. As part of the plea bargain, both the prosecution and defense agreed to recommend the sentence that Churchill imposed.

Tice Sr., a diminutive man with a feeble voice, apologized to the judge for his actions.

“I am very sorry for what I did and know that I need some help,” he said.

The defense attorney, Peter Simpson of Coupeville, said his client took responsibility by admitting what he did almost immediately to police and never intended to allow the case to go to trial. He said his client, who has only a second-grade education, feels remorse about his actions.

“Since he’s been in custody he’s picked up one book and that’s the Bible,” Simpson said.

Similarly, Ohme stressed that the plea bargain saved the children — a 4-year-old and 8-year-old — from having to testify. He said the parents were strongly against allowing the girls to take the stand.

Yet Ohme told the judge that even though he has a “hardened heart” from years of dealing with crime, he had trouble keeping his composure in interviewing the children, especially when one of the girls was talking about her dog. Ohme said Tice’s terrible crimes came to light after the parents started trying to figure out why the girl took the dog with her everywhere she went.

“She was scared the defendant would do something to the dog because that’s the thing she really loved,” he said.

Tice Sr. admitted to raping the girls when he was babysitting them, though at first blamed the 4-year-old child for initiating the abuse. Ohme said Tice Sr. also admitted to a community corrections officer that he sexually assaulted other children in California.

Ohme said Tice Sr. disclosed that he was sexually abused himself when he was a child, but Ohme said it was no excuse for his actions.

Robert Diekman, the community corrections officer, interviewed Tice Sr. for a pre-sentence investigation, which is required in sex-abuse cases. He recommended that Tice Sr. receive a slightly longer sentence because of the multiple victims, his position of authority and the vulnerability of the victims.

But Churchill said a few months didn’t matter either way since Tice Sr. is unlikely to get out of prison alive. She said she hopes the children will get the help they need so that the cycle of abuse doesn’t continue.


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