Repentant molester from Oak Harbor pleads guilty

A 31-year-old former Oak Harbor resident who admitted to molesting a child and turned himself in to police has also pleaded guilty.

Joshua Lawrence, currently a Marysville resident, agreed to a plea bargain that potentially could have saved him from years in prison. He pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Feb. 8 to three counts of child molestation in the first degree.

Under the plea agreement, the prosecutor will recommend to the judge that Lawrence be sentenced under the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative; the sentence allows defendants to go through sex offender treatment in lieu of long prison term. Under the SSOSA, the prosecutor will recommend that Lawrence serve 12 months in jail, pay restitution to the victim, have no unsupervised contract with children under 16 years of age and complete treatment.

The sentencing is scheduled for April 5.

Lawrence’s attorney, Craig Platt of Coupeville, said his client has taken responsibility for his actions.

“He’s a perfect candidate for the treatment option in this case and everyone agrees with that,” he said.

Oak Harbor Police Detective Mike Bailey started investigating the case last fall after the alleged victim, who was then 13 years old, told a friend that Lawrence had molested her.

The alleged victim wrote a text message to Lawrence, telling him that the things he had done to her are troubling her. She wrote that she was worried he would do the same thing to her sisters. He wrote back that “he would never do that to them” and that he was sorry, Bailey wrote.

In an interview with a detective, the girl said Lawrence first molested her when she was 9 years old. In addition, she claimed he molested her twice when she was 10 and twice when she was 11, the report states.

Bailey called Lawrence for an interview. Lawrence admitted that he had molested the girl “at least a couple of times,” Bailey wrote.

Lawrence told the detective that he didn’t know what triggered him to molest the child, but that he was trying to get help for it, the report states.

After the phone interview, Lawrence drove to the Oak Harbor Police Department and turned himself in. He told Bailey that “he takes full responsibility in this case and that he deserves whatever is coming to him,” court documents state.

If the judge doesn’t allow Lawrence to plead under a SSOSA, he could face an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison.

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