Shawn Michael Dawson, who was convicted of child rape and possession of child pornography, appeared in Clallam County Superior Court earlier this month after prison officials discovered he had received too long of a sentence. He will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea later this month. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Shawn Michael Dawson, who was convicted of child rape and possession of child pornography, appeared in Clallam County Superior Court earlier this month after prison officials discovered he had received too long of a sentence. He will be allowed to withdraw his guilty plea later this month. (Jesse Major/Peninsula Daily News)

Convicted child rapist able to withdraw child pornography charge plea later this month

Hearing set over with attorney recovering from surgery

PORT ANGELES — A convicted child rapist who received too long of a sentence when he pleaded guilty to dealing in child pornography will be able to withdraw his plea later this month after a delay Thursday.

Shawn Michael Dawson, an inmate at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Grays Harbor County, had his hearing set over to 9 a.m. July 25 because his attorney is recovering from surgery.

A review hearing is set for 9 a.m. Friday, July 19.

At the July 25 hearing, Dawson is expected to withdraw his guilty plea after he was charged with the current law, rather than the law that existed at the time of the offense.

Dawson is currently serving 26 months for third-degree rape of a 14-year-old boy and communication with a minor for immoral purposes and 75 months for dealing in depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct,

The state Legislature in 2017 harshened punishments against people convicted of crimes against children, but the law became effective July 23, 2017 and so it does not apply to Dawson’s case.

That change increased the punishment from a maximum of five years to a maximum of 10 years for second-degree dealing in depictions of minors engaged in explicit conduct.

The state Department of Corrections informed prosecutors and his defense attorney in May that when Dawson pleaded guilty to dealing in child pornography, Dawson was charged under the current law instead of the law that applied at the time of the offense.

“As this crime is a Class C felony based on the date of offense the maximum term should have been listed as 5 years, making this sentence over the maximum term,” according to an email from the Stafford Creek Corrections Center. “The Department respectfully requests that the sentence be amended to be within the [statutory] max for a Class C Felony. The Department does not have jurisdiction past the maximum term of 5 years.”

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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