Portland protest leader Micah Isaiah Rhodes has been spared prison by a liberal judge for a second time after he admitted to raping another young child.
The Oregon judge agreed to spare the Democrat activist from state sentencing recommendations and instead give Rhodes five years of probation.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jerry Hodson said he wouldn’t send Rhodes to prison for over two years for raping an underage teenager because he believes Rhodes is “trying to change.”
“I can tell that you’re sincere and I can tell that you’ve grown a lot over the last couple of years,” Hodson said as Rhodes wept with joy.
Oregonlive.com reports: Rhodes was 20 and 21 at the time of his crimes, in 2014 and 2015.
In March, Rhodes pleaded guilty to two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse for at least twice having sexual contact with a 17-year-old boy. Investigators say Rhodes met the boy on a gay dating app, and the contact happened in Gresham and Troutdale.
Days earlier, a Washington County jury had found Rhodes guilty of second-degree sexual abuse of a 17-year-old girl. A defense memo said the contact happened after the girl went to watch a movie with Rhodes at his mother’s house.
Oregon law says it’s a crime for an adult to have sexual contact with a minor if there are three or more years in age difference between the two.
Age of consent laws vary from state to state, with most states allowing 16- or 17- year-olds to have sexual contact with adults. Oregon is one of about a dozen states that sets the age of consent at 18. Washington state sets the age at 16.
Rhodes, now 24, was a leader of the protest group Portland’s Resistance, which rose to prominence after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016. The group helped organize day after day of marches and rallies against Trump.
Before then, Rhodes was part of Portland’s activist scene and a familiar face at Portland City Council meetings. In 2016, he helped stage a camp-out in front of then-Mayor Charlie Hales’ home.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Bumjoon Park said his office often seeks probation for defendants found guilty of the same crimes as Rhodes, but he argued that Rhodes should go to prison for about two years.
He cited Rhodes’ history of sexually victimizing children, his unwillingness to follow rules and his inability to change even after attending sex offender treatment programs three times.
Park said Rhodes as a teenager had been convicted in the youth court system of first-degree sodomy and sexual abuse. When Rhodes was about 14, he sexually abused a 9-year-old boy and when he was 15, he sexually abused three boys, Park said.
Rhodes also has a concerning track record of ignoring rules by “repeatedly sexually acting out” with his peers when he was told not to and later having contact with minors when he was forbidden from doing so by his probation, the prosecutor said.
Rhodes is almost four years older than both of the victims in the Multnomah County and Washington County cases, Park noted.
In the past, Rhodes had a “secret cellphone,” went out to bars and clubs and had a substance abuse problem that included meth, Park said.
“Frankly, he doesn’t respect the authority of the courts,” Park said. “… He simply must not believe that having sex with minors is wrong.”
Defense attorney Jon Sarre told the judge that much of what the prosecutor described was Rhodes as “a child.” Rhodes is continuing to “make strides” despite terrible circumstances he faced early in life, Sarre said.
“Mr. Rhodes as a young child was essentially forced into the sex trade,” he said. “This is a person who was repeatedly raped and repeatedly brutalized as a child.”
Rhodes pleaded for probation, telling the judge that he’s committed to following court orders.
“I have atoned for what I’ve done,” Rhodes said. “I’ve acknowledged that I made mistakes. I reported them myself.”
He said he has a new home, a good job and a drive to help people.
“That’s what’s important to me. It’s the only thing that’s important to me,” Rhodes said.
On top of the probation, the judge sentenced Rhodes to sex offender treatment and a provision that he must not have contact with children. Rhodes must register as a sex offender.
As Hodson announced his sentence, Rhodes exhaled audibly and wiped away tears. As Rhodes left the courthouse with a small crowd of supporters, he said he will not return.
“I don’t want to be back in this building ever,” he said.
Monday’s sentence was similar to that handed down by Washington County Circuit Judge Janelle Wipper about a month ago in Rhodes’ other sex abuse case.