Rapist ordered to serve nearly three years

Joshua A. Rutherford pleaded guilty to crimes involving teenage girls in 2009 and 2010.

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WALLA WALLA -- A local man who pleaded guilty to two rape charges for crimes that occurred in 2009 and 2010 was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to nearly three years behind bars.

Joshua A. Rutherford, 19, was ordered to serve the high end of the 26- to 34-month standard-range prison term he faced.

Rutherford had sex with a teenage, female acquaintance without her consent three years ago and with an underage girl in 2010.

In handing down the sentence, Judge Donald W. Schacht imposed the longest term he could under the standard sentencing laws of the state. Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern was recommending 30 months, the midpoint of the range, according to a plea agreement.

Schacht gave Rutherford credit for the 293 days he'd already served in the County Jail and placed him on three years of community custody, a form of probation, after his release from prison.

Rutherford also will have to pay $1,767.50 in costs and fees, and must register as a sex offender.

He pleaded guilty April 9 to a third-degree rape charge, which carries a standard-range penalty of 15-20 months, for having sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl without her consent in the summer of 2009.

He also pleaded guilty to third-degree rape of a child for having sex in the summer of 2010 with a girl who was 14 years old. The standard-range prison term for that crime is 26-34 months.

Both of the offenses -- which hadn't been reported to police until the spring of 2011 -- took place at a residence in the area of the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds, according to police.

Rutherford was acquainted with both of the girls, officials said.

A presentence investigation prepared by the Department of Corrections recommended Rutherford be sentenced to 41/2 years, the high end of the standard ranges for both crimes served consecutively, or one after the other.

Rutherford forced sexual contact on both girls, who "were scared, traumatized and continue to be impacted by Joshua's actions," according to the investigation report.

But defense attorney Richard Wernette pointed out -- and Schacht agreed -- that the sentences have to be served at the same time, or concurrently, under state law unless Schacht imposed an exceptionally long sentence.

He declined to do so.

Terry McConn can be reached at terrymcconn@wwub.com or 526-8319.

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