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Nov. 28, 2020

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Vancouver man, ex-church youth leader gets 5 years in child molestation cases

By , Columbian Breaking News Reporter

A Clark County Superior Court judge sentenced a 31-year-old former youth group leader Friday to five years in two child molestation cases, imposing a punishment in opposition to the defense and defendant’s family’s impassioned pleas for redemption and rehabilitation.

Robert Wilson Rector, 31, was originally charged in June 2018 with three counts of third-degree child molestation, one count of attempted third-degree child molestation and one count of fourth-degree assault with sexual motivation.

Rector, of Vancouver, pleaded guilty in November to three counts of third-degree child molestation, and a sentencing was set for early this year. But in February, he was back in court to make a first appearance in another child molestation case — involving his fourth victim.

He was sentenced on the three charges in the older case and a single count of third-degree child molestation in the second case.
Although the facts of the two cases revolve around four victims, Deputy Prosecutor Caitlin Cushing said there were additional victims, some of whom were involved in the court process.

Three of Rector’s victims spoke during the hearing; two other victim impact statements were read to the court by an advocate. The victims, who all referred to Rictor as “Wilson,” said they fully or partially forgave their former mentor but insisted he receive prison time.

“It continues to baffle me how the actions of one individual can cause such deep hurt” for many people, one victim said. Rector lied and manipulated to take advantage of children who trusted him, he said.

“I used to think it’d be more trouble to have spoken up, but that’s definitely not true,” another victim said.

Defense attorney Jon McMullen asked the court to impose a special sex offender sentencing alternative, which would have allowed Rector to spend most of his sentence out of custody in a treatment program. Rector’s brother and mother also pleaded with the judge to choose the program over incarceration, noting his qualities and desire to do good.

Judge Veljacic declined. He said the case was noteworthy because it involved a community well-versed in discussing the merits of redemption. The judge admitted such an approach, even in the courtroom, has value.

“(But) the state’s legislation on this stuff doesn’t come from on high. It comes from Olympia. … I will note that people aren’t just one thing, so it’s not surprising he can positively impact lives. He’s also capable of evil,” Veljacic said.

The Clark County Sheriff’s Office previously said Rector had been involved with multiple youth activity groups since 2009, and his participation included out-of-state travel with the organizations. Court records show some of the reported abuse occurred as long ago as July 2009.

According to multiple affidavits of probable cause, four males described incidents in which Rector touched them sexually. All four said the abuse occurred when they were about 15 years old or younger.

Court records say Rector, who at the time was a leader in a church youth group, would sometimes host gatherings at his home. The victims recalled instances where group members would stay overnight there. They said they woke to find Rector sexually abusing them. One of the victims said Rector also took photos of him while he slept.

In the second case filed by prosecutors, the victim contacted the sheriff’s office in December to report the abuse, which had occurred between 2014 and 2016, court records state.

Rector apologized to the court for his actions. He called his victims courageous and thanked them for their forgiveness, saying he would never forget their words.

”I know I’ll never do anything like this again. I’ll never put myself in a situation to do anything like this again,” he said.