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Elderly child abuser may die in prison

Oak Harbor resident Jesse Torres was sentenced to prison Friday for child molestation. - Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times
Oak Harbor resident Jesse Torres was sentenced to prison Friday for child molestation.
— image credit: Jessie Stensland/Whidbey News-Times

The elderly owner of an Oak Harbor pawn shop was sentenced Friday afternoon for sexually abusing a girl for many years, beginning when she was just 8 years old.

Jesse “Butch” Torres, 71, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court earlier this year to three counts of child molestation in the second degree.

Under the plea bargain, both the prosecution and defense recommended that Torres serve six years and three months in prison. Judge Vickie Churchill agreed and imposed the sentenced Friday.

The victim’s mother addressed the court in a lengthy, emotional speech. At times, she couldn’t speak, but just wept. She said Torres was also abusive to her, but she forgives him for that.

“I don’t forgive what he done to my daughter,” she said. “My daughter is my life.”

The woman asked Torres over and over why he had committed the crimes, but she didn’t get an answer. She said she didn’t want Torres to ever get out of prison.

Before he was sentenced, Torres apologized and said he hopes to become a better man.

“I’m sorry for the things that went on in the past,” he said. “I’m not happy with it and I’m here to face the consequences.”

Torres’ attorney, Bill Hawkins of Oak Harbor, stressed that Torres was very forthcoming with police detectives and admitted the crimes. He also discussed the man’s poor health. Torres suffers from diabetes and had a leg amputated last year. Now he has a wound on his other foot that won’t heal.

“His life expectancy is not that great and she may get her wish,” Hawkins said, referring to the woman’s wish that Torres is never freed.

Oak Harbor police investigated the case last December after a 17-year-old boy reported that Torres had raped his 16-year-old sister.

Torres admitted that he started molesting the girl when she was 8 years old and started raping her when she was 13, Hawkins said. The girl told police that Torres raped her more than 100 times, court documents state.

Torres has owned Butch’s Jewelry and Loan in Oak Harbor for more than 10 years. Before that, he worked for Boeing.

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