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Wednesday, November 29, 2023
Nov. 29, 2023

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Clark County man sentenced to 7.5 years in sexual abuse of 2 teen girls

27-year-old friended girls on Facebook, arranged meetings

By , Columbian staff reporter

A Clark County man was sentenced Tuesday to 7½ years in prison for sexually abusing two teenage girls.

Jacob A. Espey, 27, pleaded guilty last month in Clark County Superior Court to third-degree rape of a child, second-degree child molestation and sexual exploitation of a minor.

Judge Nancy Retsinas ordered the 90-month sentence, which was higher than the agreed-upon recommendation of 84 months by the prosecution and defense.

Retsinas said Espey showed a pattern of concerning behavior after his arrest earlier this year in a case involving a 14-year-old girl triggered a DNA match in a 2020 case involving a 13-year-old girl.

The father of the 13-year-old victim told Retsinas of the toll Espey’s actions have taken on his daughter’s mental health. He also read a statement from his daughter, in which she described experiencing flashbacks of the incident.

Defense attorney John Terry said Espey has taken responsibility for his actions. Espey declined to make a statement to the court.

In early February, Espey sent the 14-year-old girl a friend request on Facebook, and they began messaging. They talked about her running away and coming to live with Espey in his van, according to an affidavit of probable cause.

On the morning of Feb. 8, the girl ran away from home, and Espey picked her up. She stayed the night in Espey’s van. She told him she was 15, and he told her he was 24. They subsequently had sexual contact, the affidavit states.

The next day, the girl became frightened and wanted to go home, she said. She messaged her mother and asked to be picked up. The woman went to the van’s location, in a store parking lot in the Minnehaha area. She confronted Espey, who denied knowing what she was talking about and offered to help find the girl, according to the affidavit.

The woman said Espey started “acting strange,” the affidavit says, so she backed away, and he got into the van and drove off. She followed him and called Vancouver police, court records state.

Espey reportedly told the girl he was going to jail because she is a minor. He parked the van at a convenience store, jumped out and ran away. Before fleeing, he told the girl to stay there and that he would be back for her. The girl ran to her mother, the affidavit says.

In May 2020, the Clark County Sheriff’s Office took a report from a girl who said her 13-year-old friend told her she’d had sexual contact with a 20-year-old man, a separate probable cause affidavit states.

The 13-year-old girl told deputies she’d snuck out of the house and met up with a man she’d met on Facebook. The man’s Facebook account was under a different name than Espey, court records state.

She said he messaged her “out of nowhere,” and they began talking. During that time, she said she told him she was 13. She told investigators they met up and had sexual contact before the man drove her home, the affidavit states.

The girl received a sexual assault examination at a local hospital, which found male DNA, according to court records. At the time, the DNA did not return a match for anyone already in the database.

The case was suspended until July 2022, when DNA taken from Espey in the case involving the 14-year-old girl matched that collected in the 13-year-old girl’s case, the affidavit states.

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