Island County judge rejects plea bargain for ‘Druid’ child rapist
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
April 19, 2010 · Updated 8:37 AM
Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock made a rare deviation from a plea-bargained, recommended sentence and sent a child rapist to prison for well over 12 years.
Daniel Doherty, a 53-year-old former Oak Harbor resident, appeared in court March 12 for sentencing. Under a plea agreement, Doherty pleaded guilty Feb. 18 to first-degree child rape and first-degree child molestation.
Doherty had frequently raped and molested the victim for nine years, beginning when she was just 11 years old. He convinced her that the sexual abuse was part of a Druid religion.
Both the defense and prosecution recommended that Doherty serve 12 years in prison, but the judge did not agree. Hancock stressed how heinous the crimes were.
“The court is appalled by your conduct,” he said. “You victimized and exploited this young person. ... Words cannot express how deplorable your actions were.”
Doherty, a bearded carnival worker and former member of the Navy, didn’t say a word during the hearing and showed little emotion.
In the end, Hancock sentenced Doherty to 12 years and eight months in prison, which is eight months shy of the maximum. Hancock said he gave Doherty some credit for pleading guilty and not forcing the victim to go through a trial.
Hancock thanked the victim, who wasn’t present, for her heart-felt victim impact statement. The young woman described how the nine years of abuse robbed her of her childhood and turned her into a person who suffers from constant flashbacks, bad dreams, day terrors, anger, depression and regret.
“Nine years. Nine years I should have been a kid... Should have been able to learn to trust and make friends. Should have been able to enjoy life and just be a kid,” she wrote.
The girl’s father spoke at the hearing and asked the judge to give Doherty the maximum sentence.
“It irritates me that he says he’s going to take full responsibility. Then take all of it. Take every last day of it,” the man said.
The Department of Corrections also recommended that Doherty receive the maximum sentence in the pre-sentence investigation report, which is required for sex offenders. Doherty told the corrections officer that he didn’t think all the years of abuse affected the victim at all since she didn’t have to go through a trial. The report describes how Doherty continually raped the girl, employing coercion, threats and violence. He warned her that if she told anyone, her mother and brother wouldn’t love her anymore and she would become an outcast.
“It was not until she was confident her mother would still love her, did she disclose the sexual and emotional abuse by Doherty,” the report states.
The victim, who is now 21, reported the history of abuse to the Island County Sheriff’s Office last fall.
“He convinced her that she should keep their relationship a secret, and that the sexual acts were part of a Druid religion where they were pleasing the Goddess, Epona,” Detective Laura Price wrote in her report.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.