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Oak Harbor man found guilty of child rape charges

After a day and a half of deliberation, a jury found a 39-year-old former Navy man guilty of three counts of child rape Tuesday.

At the same time, the jury in Island County Superior Court was hung on two other child rape counts, as well as a charge of child porn.

“Obviously we would have liked to have them find him guilty on all counts,” Deputy Prosecutor Mike Henegen said, “but they took the case very seriously and we thank them for the effort.”

Sidney Summiel befriended a couple of teenage boys and engaged in a sexual relationship with them between 1995 and 2000. He was charged with three counts of child rape in the second degree, two counts of child rape in the third degree and a count of possession of child pornography with sexual motivation. The more serious second-degree charges are for having sex with a child under 14 years old.

The jury found Summiel guilty of one count of second-degree child rape and two counts of third-degree child rape. Henegen said the prosecution hasn’t decided yet if they will re-try Summiel on the other charges the jury was unable to make a decision on.

Summiel’s sentencing hearing is set for March 8. He’s facing between eight years and two months to 10 years and 10 months in prison under the standard sentencing range, but Henegen said he’ll ask for an exceptional sentence beyond that. An exceptional sentence is allowed, he said, in the case of “an ongoing pattern of sexual abuse of same victim under the age of 18 manifested by multiple incidents over a long period of time.”

Lawyers made their closing arguments in the trial late Friday afternoon.

Prosecuting attorney Josh Choate, who worked alongside Henegen, said Summiel had sexual contact with a 12-year-old boy at least three times between September 1995 and December 1996.

Choate admitted the state is relying heavily on the teenager’s testimony. However, he said the story gains credibility because of the victim’s knowledge of Summiel’s apartment and roommates.

“These are details that add weight to what (the victim) is telling you,” Choate said.

Summiel’s defense attorney, Hans Juhl of Oak Harbor, called the juvenile “a liar.” He added that the victim came up with the story after he was arrested for possessing child pornography.

He also argued that Summiel never had enough time alone with the boy to engage in sexual contact and his roommates should have noticed such contact.

“This all comes down to the credibility of the victims. It’s (their) word against Sidney Summiel’s,” Juhl said.

Choate also relied on similar evidence with the two counts of second degree child rape — the victim’s testimony and documentation proving Summiel’s whereabouts.

Summiel is charged with having sexual contact with a 13-year-old boy several times in mid -1996 and again in early 1999.

However, there were two pieces of additional evidence Choate used to try and boost his case — a taped confession and letters written by Summiel to the victim. Juhl argued that Summiel confessed because he was exhausted from the two hours he previously spent with detectives that weren’t taped.

Choate saw the confession differently.

“It’s a simple conversation,” Choate said. “It wasn’t some kind of confession that was coerced out of him.”

Both Choate and Hennegen highlighted letters written by Summiel from Spain to the juvenile. The letters mentioned the difficult time Summiel had in Spain and how much he missed the victim.

“It’s a flowery letter written by someone with a teenage crush,” Choate said.

On the other hand, Juhl argued that the 14-year-old gave too many conflicting statements to authorities to be credible. “There simply isn’t enough to produce this charge without a reasonable doubt,” he said.

Choate said the victims had no motivation to lie because Summiel showered them with gifts.

Summiel is also charged of possession of child pornography with sexual motivation along with the child rape charges. When Summiel was arrested, a computer was confiscated containing more than 2,000 pictures of child pornography.

Juhl said his client testified that he never seen the pictures and that other people had access to the computer. He also highlighted Summiel’s naval record and argued that he was a role model to teenagers.

The prosecution painted a very different picture of the man. “This man raped those two boys and he owned a computer with 2,100 pictures of child porn,” Choate said.

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