PORT ANGELES — A Sequim man was resentenced this week to 11½ years in prison on multiple convictions including child rape after the state Court of Appeals remanded the case back to Clallam County Superior Court.
In his ruling Monday, visiting Judge Brian Coughenour repeatedly cited Nathan Chavez’s lack of remorse before meting out the same prison sentence he gave the former Sequim church trustee on Aug. 9, 2018.
A jury found Sanchez, 35, guilty June 6, 2018, of four counts of third-degree child rape between 2014 and 2016 of two 14-year-old girls, one count of third-degree child molestation for assaulting one of the girls when she was drunk, and one count of witness tampering when he asked a friend of the girls to get them to drop the charges.
Chavez intends to challenge Coughenour’s decision in a second state Court of Appeals filing, Chavez’s lawyer, Stan Myers of Port Angeles, said Monday.
The court agreed Coughenour could using the “free crimes” aggravator allowed under state law to exceed the sentencing range called for under Chavez’s offender score, which cannot exceed the nine points that Chavez received.
“It allows the judge to give an exceptional sentence outside the standard range when a defendant’s offender score is so high under the Sentencing Reform Act that some of the crimes go unpunished,” Criminal Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matthew Roberson said Wednesday.
In its ruling, the appeals court said Coughenour could impose the same or a different sentence.
Myers argued Monday that Chavez should be sentenced to 60 months in concurrent rather than consecutive prison terms.
“Mr. Chavez can be held accountable at 60 months as much as he could at 137 months,” Myers said.
“A 60-month sentence does not hold him accountable,” Roberson responded.
A survivor at the hearing Monday agreed.
“I feel like it would kind of just be like a slap in the face for him to just be able to swerve around some consequences,” she said.
“He knows he did this, and it’s been years now, but he’s still trying to get a pass, and I just don’t think that’s right.”
In a rambling statement, Chavez defended police and the courts, talked about the pandemic, and praised himself for helping other inmates.
He is incarcerated at Stafford Creek Corrections Center in Grays Harbor.
“Yeah, I put myself in the situation, for the most part even, I just hope and pray that whatever I’ve done wrong, the things I know I’ve done wrong and others forgive me,” Chavez said.
“I ask for forgiveness and I forgive all those that are pushing their own agenda,” he said.
“I just want the best for everybody.”
Chavez said “I do accept responsibility,” but argued that he was offered a plea deal of 60 months from the prosecuting attorney’s office that he rejected.
Coughenour said one sex offense and the tampering conviction would have gone unpunished had he sentenced Chavez to 60 months.
“I don’t think that’s fair,” he said.
“And I came here today hoping to hear some remorse.
“Frankly, I didn’t hear any remorse.”
Coughenour said Chavez chose not to take the plea bargain.
“You chose instead to require these survivors to appear in court and have to testify to a part of their life that they wished could be erased,” Coughenour said.
The plea deal was offered “if you accepted responsibility for what you did, and you chose not to do that,” he said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.