Man accused of molesting friends' 4-year-old

His Oregon parole prohibited him from contact with minors

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

Published:

 
photoGary Joseph Starks

A convicted sex offender from Oregon is accused of molesting a 4-year-old girl in Vancouver after befriending the child's parents and lying about his past. All the while, his association with the young family was a violation of his Oregon parole, which prohibits him from contact with minors.

Gary Joseph Starks, 30, of McMinnville, Ore., appeared Wednesday in Clark County Superior Court on suspicion of first-degree child molestation. He will be arraigned Friday on the charge.

Judge Suzan Clark held him on $250,000 bail and appointed Vancouver law firm Grecco Downs to defend him.

Starks was convicted in Multnomah County of first-degree attempted sodomy and first-degree attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object. He is on parole for the conviction until February 2015.

At some point, he befriended the 4-year-old victim's parents and began visiting them regularly at their home in Vancouver. He spent the night at their home on multiple occasions, according to a probable cause affidavit filed in court.

Starks allegedly downplayed his prior conviction, telling the couple that it resulted from dating someone "a little bit younger," the affidavit says. He said the victim was just a few years younger, said Clark County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Alan Harvey. In reality, there was a significantly greater age disparity between him and the Oregon victim, Harvey said.

Multnomah County Parole & Probation's website states that his victim profile includes "males and females both strangers and known to him, ranging in age from 1 year to peer age." He "gained access to victims through friendships and baby-sitting, used physical force, coercion and bribes to gain compliance of victims," the site says.

The 4-year-old Vancouver victim allegedly told her parents in April that Starks was molesting her, according to the affidavit. Based on her recollection of Starks' hair color at the time, the incidents allegedly occurred between October and December, the affidavit says.

Starks denied the accusations.

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com