Former Bible counselor gets 35 years for sexual abuse of siblings

Vancouver man’s case was delayed by dispute over evidence

By Laura McVicker, Columbian staff writer

Published:

Updated: September 4, 2012, 6:47 PM

 

A former Bible camp counselor was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in prison for sexually abusing two children he knew through church.

Michael Scott Norris’ sentencing in Clark County Superior Court has been a long time coming. The Vancouver man, 46, was jailed in August 2006 on the sex abuse allegations, but his case remained in limbo for years over an evidence dispute.

In addition, Clark County prosecutors had to wait until federal prosecutors completed their child pornography case this spring against Norris.

On Tuesday, Judge John Wulle imposed the maximum sentence for Norris, noting how disturbing the case has been. “The cruelty you have shown these children … just boggles the mind,” Wulle said.

Norris’ 25-year federal sentence for producing child pornography will be served at the same time as his 35-year local sentence, so the amount of time served doesn’t exceed 35 years. After 35 years, Norris’ case will go before the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board, which could keep him imprisoned for the rest of his life.

Wulle found Norris guilty July 30 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.

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.

For the past six years, prosecutors, citing a federal law precluding them from distributing child pornography, would not give 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.

Laura McVicker: www.twitter.com/col_courts;www.facebook.com/reportermcvicker;laura.mcvicker@columbian.com; 360-735-4516.