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Oak Harbor man sentenced for molestation attempt

A Department of Corrections’ investigation into a 26-year-old Oak Harbor man who tried to molest a sleeping boy reveals a sad, familiar story of substance abuse, untreated mental illness and wasted youth.

Brandon Cole pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court Jan. 4 to attempted child molestation in the first degree. On Feb. 16, a judge sentenced him to more than three years in prison, with the possibility of a life sentence.

Prior to the sentencing of sex offenders, the Department of Corrections is required to complete a pre-sentence investigation with a sentencing recommendation. The report outlines the crime, victim concerns, the defendant’s version of the crime, his criminal history, his mental health and intimate details about his personal life.

“He has always lived hand-to-mouth and spent whatever money he had at the time on immediate pleasures such as alcohol, drugs and partying,” the report states.

Cole’s attorney, Darrin Hall of Coupeville, recommended that Cole be sentenced under the Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative, which allows a reduced jail term so that a sex offender can receive treatment in the community. Cole admitted what he did, took responsibility and he has a minor criminal history.

“He was remarkably humble in the fact that he admitted he had a problem,” Hall said.

But the Department of Corrections, a licensed psychologist and the prosecution felt he should go to prison because he’s never been able to hold a job and has spent most of his adult life “couch surfing.” Under the SSOSA program, a defendant has to pay for treatment and having a stable life is an important part of treatment.

“If it wasn’t for that, he would have been a perfect candidate for treatment,” Hall said.

In prison, the report states, Cole will have access to free sex offender therapy and substance abuse treatment.

Judge Vickie Churchill agreed with the report and sentenced Cole to an indeterminate sentence of up to life in prison. He’ll have to serve the minimum of three years, two months and a week in prison, then a review board will decide whether to release him.

Hall said it’s likely Cole will be released after serving the minimum because he admitted what he did and wants treatment.

According to court records, the attempted molestation took place last August at an Oak Harbor home. A woman and her 11-year-old son were visiting a friend overnight. The boy was sleeping on the couch when Cole woke him by rubbing the boy’s stomach and putting his hands inside the front of his pants. The youngster stopped Cole before he touched his genitals.

“The child did what his mother always told him to do, which is to get out of there and come find her,” Chief Criminal Deputy Colleen Kenimond said. “The only reason that a molestation didn’t occur was that the child was able to get out of the situation.

According to Kenimond, the boy’s mother said he’s doing OK and doesn’t appear to have significant trauma.

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