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DA drops sex charges

Despite the confession of a 19-year-old Grass Valley man to sexually abusing his toddler son, the Nevada County District Attorney’s Office dropped the charges in a plea agreement.

Jesse Rider, then 18, confessed to Grass Valley Police in June 2005 that he sodomized his 4-year-old son at least three times last year and that it was “an accident” that occurred when he hugged the child while they were in bed together.

Rider will be sentenced in December for a reduced charge of child endangerment. A plea agreement was reached two weeks ago.



Deputy District Attorney Charles O’Rourke said a 2004 Supreme Court ruling, Crawford vs. Washington, complicated the prosecutors’ decision. Crawford vs. Washington gave the defense an opportunity to cross examine witnesses – including victims – regarding statements they made outside of court before their statements are entered into evidence.

O’Rourke said the 2004 ruling, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, has made it more difficult to prosecute crimes involving young victims.




Rider was charged with four charges of sexual abuse, including one charge of continuous sexual abuse of a child and three counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a child under 14 years old, causing psychological harm.

“The victim is 6 years old now, and a year and a half ago, a tape (of the victim’s statements) was made,” O’Rourke said. “There are questions (about whether) he can remember what he said.”

After he interviewed the child recently, O’Rourke said he decided to offer the plea agreement, which Rider signed.

“The victim’s mother and I thought this was the best thing for the minor,” O’Rourke said. “That was the main reason (for the agreement).”

While he is not optimistic Rider will receive the maximum sentence, O’Rourke said Rider will most likely serve some jail time, and he will have to attend a sex offender program.

The child lives in Stockton with his mother. The incident occurred on visits with Rider at the home Rider shared with his mother and siblings in Grass Valley on the 500 block of Douglas Avenue.

That same house burned down on Dec. 9, 2004, when a candle fell over in a bedroom. The fire occurred during the time prosecutors allege the abuse was continuing; from Jan. 1, 2004, to Feb. 23, 2005.

Rider is now charged with child endangerment, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Rider is scheduled for sentencing at 1:30 p.m., Dec. 11, 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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