PORT ANGELES — Prosecutors expect to file charges today against a Port Angeles man who court papers say admitted to having sexual contact with a 12-year-old girl who is diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Court records say that Byron Midkiff, 42, gave the confession while Clallam County Sheriff’s deputies were responding to a report Sunday that he was suicidal and before he was read his Miranda Rights.
He was not under arrest and was not in restraints when he offered the confession, but after he was read his rights, Midkiff immediately invoked his rights and stated he should get an attorney, court records say.
He was arrested Sunday for investigation of two counts of second-degree rape of a child (penile and non-penile), first-degree child molestation and second-degree child molestation after deputies talked to the alleged victim, who said the sexual contact had been ongoing for six years.
Midkiff appeared in Clallam County Superior Court on Monday, where he was ordered held in the Clallam County jail on $25,000 bail — despite the prosecuting attorney’s request for $1 million bail.
“We understand Mr. Midkiff has no criminal history; however, the allegations in this case can be perceived to be particularly egregious,” Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols told the court, asking for $1 million bail.
“The state’s concern is he was [preying] on a minor who is vulnerable based on age, relationship and the existence of a known mental health condition.”
The girl is diagnosed with schizophrenia and is a member of Midkiff’s family.
Midkiff’s attorney, Harry Gasnick of Clallam Public Defender, argued that Midkiff has “absolutely no criminal history” and that he has been employed by the U.S. Postal Service for 23 years. Gasnick said Midkiff is not a risk to the community and he is not a flight risk.
A spokesperson for the postal service said Midkiff is on “non-duty status pending the outcome of an investigation” from his job at the Port Angeles Post Office, where he provides customer service.
“If the allegations have merit, the allegations are that the gentleman, who was entirely cooperative, is alleged to have given a full confession to law enforcement knowing that the only person making the accusation would be a person who would have fundamental credibility issues,” Gasnick said.
“The nature of the allegations are such that — per the prosecutor — he is alleged to have a specific targeted individual and he does not represent a generalized risk to the community.”
Deputies did not immediately arrest Midkiff after his confession, Gasnick said, and Midkiff did not flee.
In a phone interview Monday Gasnick declined to address the pre-Miranda confession and what it could mean for the case. Nichols also declined to address the confession, but referred to Criminal Rule 3.5, which requires a hearing to determine whether a defendant’s statement can be used as evidence.
Chief Criminal Deputy Brian King said Monday he is confident the case will be able to move forward with the statement used as evidence because Midkiff offered the confession freely and prior to being taken into custody.
“He was not under arrest,” King said. “It was free and voluntary. It was an interview and he was not under arrest.”
He said case law is that “custody triggers Miranda.”
Clallam County Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour rejected Nichols’ request for $1 million bail, opting to set bail instead at $25,000 and adding a requirement that if he is released, he is not to have contact with children younger than 18.
“Frankly, I looked at his history and he has a speeding ticket — that’s it,” Coughenour said.
Coughenour said he set bail at $25,000 because he wanted “to be sure there’s at least some funds in regard to his reappearance in court.”
After talking to the child, deputies arrested Midkiff, who was cooperative and booked into the jail without incident, court records say.
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.