Ernest Allen Penn pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape July 19. His sentencing hearing, scheduled for Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court, was continued until Oct. 18. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Ernest Allen Penn pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape July 19. His sentencing hearing, scheduled for Friday in Jefferson County Superior Court, was continued until Oct. 18. (Brian McLean/Peninsula Daily News)

Rape victim’s mother addresses offender

Hoh tribal officer to be sentenced in October

PORT TOWNSEND — The mother of a teenage rape victim spoke in Jefferson County Superior Court, denouncing the man’s actions and calling him a manipulator who took advantage of his status as a family friend.

Ernest Allen Penn, 43, pleaded guilty to third-degree child rape last month, a Class C felony punishable by a maximum of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines.

He still faces five counts of third-degree rape of a child and one count of communication with a minor for immoral purposes in Clallam County. He has not yet appeared in Clallam County Superior Court.

Penn lived next door to his victim and was childhood friends with her father, who was not in the courtroom Friday because “he would not be able to keep his composure,” the victim’s mother told the court.

Penn, who was working as a fisheries enforcement officer for the Hoh tribe when he was arrested in Forks, has been held at the Jefferson County Jail since March 13 in lieu of $300,060 bail.

Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Julie St. Marie was seeking a sentence in the mid-range for the plea agreement reached July 19.

Charging documents state Penn had an ongoing sexual relationship with the girl starting in 2017, when she was 15.

Judge Keith Harper granted a continuance on his sentencing hearing until mid-October and ordered Penn to undergo an evaluation through the state Department of Corrections to determine if he will be eligible for a special sex offender sentencing alternative.

Sentencing was rescheduled for Oct. 18.

The victim and her family appeared in Jefferson County Superior Court, traveling from Forks, and Harper allowed the victim’s mother to address the court.

“My daughter thought that this was it, that she was going to have closure today,” the mother said.

She read from a statement but didn’t look at Penn, who stood just a few feet from her on the opposite side of the bench.

“For 20 years, you were my friend,” she said. “I felt comfortable I could trust you.”

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,” she said.

The effects carried over into a small school, where the girl was “ostracized,” the victim’s mother said.

“She was so hurt and completely devastated,” she said.

“The public shame and humility you have put her through is what she’s going to have to learn to live with.”

When the victim attempted to end the relationship several times, her mother said that Penn repeatedly told the girl he would kill himself.

Charging documents stated the sexual encounters occurred away from Penn’s home because a woman and Penn’s children live at the home.

“Our families are neighbors, and we must face each other every day, but not you,” the victim’s mother said.

Harper listened to her testimony and responded, “I’m sorry for what you’re having to go through.”

________

Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at bmclean@peninsuladailynews.com.

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