A 32-year-old petty chief in the Navy originally accused of raping a boy he met on a dating app pleaded guilty to a lesser offense recently, according to court documents.
Under a plea bargain, Ernie M. Chavez Jr. agreed to an exceptional sentence after pleading guilty in Island County Superior Court to a single count of communicating with a minor for immoral purposes.
On June 8, a judge agreed with the recommendation, which is beyond the standard sentencing range, and sentenced him to six months in jail.
Chavez was arrested at a 14-year-old boy’s home in Oak Harbor June 23 after having sex with him, according to police reports. Chavez had met the boy through the Grindr app.
The boy reported that he changed his mind about the encounter and tried to back out, but Chavez raped him, according to a police report.
Chavez later claimed that he thought the boy was of legal age, though he admits he should have asked to check the child’s identification.
Chavez denied raping the boy.
A statement written by a family member of the victim states there was no way anyone could mistake the boy for an adult. The writer said Chavez’s boldness was terrifying because he assaulted the boy while other children were playing nearby and adults were home.
“Mr. Chavez has taken our feeling of safety at our home away from us,” the statements says.
Chavez will receive a general discharge from the Navy, according to court documents.