Tuesday, September 12, 2006
By RAELYNN RICARTE
News staff writer
September 2, 2006
Hood River County law enforcement officials have concluded their largest criminal case to date centered on pedophilia and child pornography.
On Monday Larry Van Horn, 23, appeared before Judge Donald Hull and pleaded guilty to the molestation of a boy and girl under the age of 14. He also admitted to four counts of encouraging child sex abuse by possession of outlawed pictures.
“I’ve never seen anything worse, and I’ve dealt with a lot of these types of cases before,” said Deputy District Attorney Carrie Rasmussen.
“The sad reality of this case is that we got justice for two local victims who were abused by Larry Van Horn. But there are hundreds of individual victims who will never know justice. Their images are still out there being traded like baseball cards over the Internet. In my opinion, each portrayal is a re-victimization of a young child who was forced to perform a sexual act with an adult.
“Unfortunately, as a prosecutor, I’m unable to get justice for each of those young victims, so this is a case that will never be finished as far as I’m concerned,” she said.
Rasmussen and Sheriff Detective Bob Davidson spent hours thumbing through hundreds of sexually explicit photographs seized from Van Horn’s residence. The explicit material he illegally downloaded from the Internet involved victims of all ages, from infants to older teens.
“This was really hard to deal with. One’s mind just doesn’t work that way,” said Rasmussen.
The result of their research, and the undercover role taken by Davidson, landed Van Horn in prison for nine years. After being released, the former Neal Creek Road resident will have to register as a sex offender for life.
While preparing for court, Davidson and Rasmussen became concerned that Van Horn had also appeared to be stimulated by pictures routinely taken of children that were not sexual in nature.
“I think, based on this case, that people should be really careful to never post a naked photo of their child — even as innocent as a diaper change — on any Web site,” said Davidson.
After gaining information about Van Horn’s activities from an undisclosed source, he made Internet contact with the suspect in March. Davidson first claimed to be the mother of two young boys. The officer then professed to be a social service agency mentor to pre-teens “Luke” and “Samuel.”
In conversations with both fictitious individuals, Van Horn clearly indicated a sexual interest in the children.
According to Davidson, Van Horn also admitted to molesting a young male and female.
On June 1, a meeting was set up between the children and Van Horn at a swimming beach along the Columbia River. When the suspect arrived, he was approached by an undercover officer.
He immediately fled the scene, driving his vehicle through a ditch and through some underbrush in his haste to get away, according to Davidson.
Van Horn’s pickup was later found parked along Westcliff Drive and he was apprehended while attempting to hide in a hotel restroom.
Although he confessed to the crimes, the case took another bizarre twist on Aug. 2 when Van Horn was granted a furlough from jail for emergency dental work. He showed up hours after his scheduled return time and Rasmussen was then notified that he had made several phone calls to the home of his victims. Rasmussen added a Contempt of Court charge against Van Horn.
Davidson said Van Horn once worked as the custodian of a school in Parkdale — another source of concern. He is asking anyone with information about other potential victims to call his office at 387-6847.
Davidson said Van Horn’s computers have been turned over to an FBI lab in Portland. He is hopeful the federal agency can identify at least some of the young victims portrayed in photos and arrest their abusers.
“Solving this case gave me a lot of personal satisfaction. I feel really good about this conviction — it’s going to make the community a little safer for the kids,” he said.
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge