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A life ruined by sex attack

A 15-year-old girl sat in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday and told a judge her life was shattered when a 27-year-old homeless Grass Valley man lured her into his tent last March and forced her to have sex with him.

“I have flashbacks and nightmares… I’m angry all the time,” the girl said. “My life has been horribly affected.”

Since the incident, she said, she has altered her appearance so men would find her unattractive. The man who pleaded no contest to her attack, Christopher Clanton, sat wearing handcuffs and a jail-issued orange jumpsuit about 15 feet away, listening to the girl, who was 14 at the time of the crime. He showed no emotion.



Clanton’s sentencing was postponed Thursday for the third time pending review of psychological assessments, Judge Thomas Anderson said.

The district attorney’s office charged Clanton in March with forcible rape, but later reduced the charge to lewd and lascivious acts with a child 14 or younger. Clanton pleaded no contest to the charge in July.




“The facts weren’t there to justify forcible rape,” Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson said after Thursday’s court hearing.

The girl picked Clanton out of a photo lineup. She said she met Clanton outside the Del Oro movie theater on Mill Street in downtown Grass Valley at about 10:30 p.m. on a Friday.

The two took a walk, then ended up at Clanton’s tent in the woods behind the Brighton Greens business complex, she told police.

Ferguson and the county probation department have advocated for a prison sentence, while Public Defender Don Lown has pushed for probation, which also is possible.

Clanton was a registered sex offender when he attacked the girl, according to police.

The maximum sentence for his crime is three years in state prison, Ferguson said. But he would automatically spend just half of that time behind bars, according to California Department of Corrections procedures.

If sentenced to prison, Clanton also would get credit for time already served in county jail.

Clanton would not receive any counseling for his crime in jail, but Anderson could demand he attend counseling as part of his probation, Ferguson said.

“I don’t have much hope of (Clanton) having a successful probation,” Ferguson said.

Clanton’s homeless status makes it more difficult for probation and sheriff’s officers to keep track of him to ensure he’s attending counseling and registering every month as a sex offender, Ferguson said.

Registrants who have a permanent residence are required to register annually within five days of their birthdays. Homeless registrants must check in with law enforcement every month.

Clanton’s sentencing was re-scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 8 in Nevada County Superior Court.

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To contact Staff Writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail robynm@theunion.com or call 477-4236.


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