Ernest Allen Penn pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape July 19. Penn has a hearing scheduled Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Ernest Allen Penn pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape July 19. Penn has a hearing scheduled Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Former Hoh tribal officer may ask for sex offender alternative

Sentencing hearing set for Friday in Jefferson County

PORT TOWNSEND — A former Hoh tribal fisheries officer who pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape might be considered for a special sentence.

Ernest Allen Penn, 44, has a hearing scheduled at 8:30 a.m. Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court.

His attorney, Richard Davies of Jefferson Associated Counsel, might seek a Special Sex Offender Sentencing Alternative (SSOSA), which would allow community placement on probation and require participation in outpatient sex offender treatment, according to court records.

While deputy prosecuting attorney Julie St. Marie opposed the alternative, Davies told Judge Keith Harper on Friday he had a number of letters in support of Penn, who has five pending counts of third-degree rape of a child in Clallam County in addition to one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes.

Penn remained in the Jefferson County Jail in lieu of $300,060 bail Sunday.

He pleaded guilty in July to raping a 15-year-old girl who lived in the same Forks neighborhood. Court documents state Penn and the girl had a sexual relationship that began in October or November 2017 and lasted for about eight months.

Penn told Joseph A. Jensen, a Silverdale psychologist, that there were 14 or 15 incidents of intercourse with the girl during that time period, court records state.

The girl’s mother addressed the court in August and said Penn was childhood friends with the girl’s father.

She said the story of their relationship leaked onto social media when it first occurred, and Penn painted himself as the victim.

“You spotted a vulnerable child and convinced her to give everything special to you,” the girl’s mother said.

Penn’s sentencing hearing last week was continued for a second time. It was originally set for August but delayed so he could be evaluated for the possibility of the SSOSA.

“The state is not in favor of the alternative, and the logistics of how he would accomplish that is concerning based on what’s happening [with his charges] in Clallam County,” St. Marie said.

Harper said Friday that any supporting documents need to be filed by Wednesday.

“If the state wants another week, that might be in Mr. Penn’s best interest,” Davies said.

Penn’s evaluation was filed with the court Oct. 24. The 21-page document covers his family background and upbringing, academic history, self-reported substance abuse, and criminal and work history in addition to sexual history.

The report said Penn fathered a child with a 17-year-old woman when he was 14 but did not know about the boy until the child was 4.

It also said Penn had a “one night stand” with a 17-year-old woman when he was 19 that resulted in a child. Penn told the psychologist he learned about the baby when the boy was 10 months old.

Penn had a 15-year relationship with a separate woman with whom he had two daughters. Today, his children are 30, 24, 13 and 11, according to court documents.

“Mr. Penn stated that he has had sexual contact with approximately 15-20 adult women; all his sexual relationships were consensual and did not involve physical force,” Jensen’s report says.

The document concludes Penn’s rape victim is the only contact he has had with a female minor.

It also said Penn participated in a polygraph exam which indicated he was not being deceptive when he answered questions about his involvement with other minors.

Jensen’s report said Penn is at “average risk” to re-offend — about 4 percent within five years following a return to the community — but he added the nearest certified sex offender treatment provider is 3½ hours away, and Penn likely would need to double up individual therapy and group sessions every other week.

Penn told Jensen if he is granted the SSOSA, he would like to live on the Hoh Reservation in a fifth wheel on a lot owned by his sister and work for the tribe as a river-based commercial fisherman.

“I’m pessimistic about getting the SSOSA. I’m preparing myself for going to prison,” Penn told Jensen, according to the report. “I think that the court is going to want to make an example out of me.

“I don’t think that I would survive prison because I’m a sex offender and because I was law enforcement.”

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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