Former Bible camp counselor guilty of sex crimes

Clark County verdict follows federal conviction

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: July 30, 2012, 10:36 PM

 

After six years, a former Bible camp counselor’s child rape case in Clark County was resolved Monday with a conviction on 10 felony counts.

Michael Scott Norris, 46, of Vancouver will be sentenced Sept. 4 and faces 35 years in prison.

Norris was charged in both federal court and in Clark County Superior Court; in April, he pleaded guilty to producing pornography of two children and was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to 25 years in prison.

Following the conclusion of the federal case, Norris came back to Clark County to resolve the local charges. Prosecutors have said they will ask the judge for Norris to serve the local sentence at the same time as he serves his federal sentence, so the amount of time served doesn’t exceed 35 years.

Monday, Judge John Wulle found Norris guilty of four counts of first-degree rape of a child, two counts of second-degree rape of a child, two counts of first-degree child molestation and two counts of second-degree child molestation.

In March 2011, Norris submitted a written agreement admitting to the allegations and waived a jury trial. However, the case remained in limbo, as federal prosecutors pursued their case.

Evidence dispute

Norris volunteered as a pastor and camp counselor at Open Bible Church in southeast Portland at the time of his August 2006 arrest. Federal agents seized his computer, on which they found pornographic videos and images.

Prosecutors here charged him with raping and molesting a girl and her brother between 2003 and 2006. The children named in Clark County’s charges are the same victims as in the federal case. Authorities have said the siblings were family friends of Norris’ and also went to his church.

Norris’ case has been in limbo since 2006 — while he was in jail — over an evidence dispute. Prosecutors, citing a federal law precluding them from distributing child pornography, would not give the tapes to Norris’ attorney, who said he needed them to prepare a defense and move forward to trial.

The Washington Court of Appeals ruled in 2010 that state law requires prosecutors to hand over the tapes. However, a new state law that went into effect in June forbids prosecutors and police officers from disseminating child pornography to defense attorneys.

Attorneys must now view the material at a neutral facility or a law enforcement office.

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