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Local musician sentenced to 20 years for sex abuse

Shaun TomanShaun Toman of Cornelius was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sex abuse Tuesday, April 26, at a hearing that included a surprise revelation of Toman’s own experience of abuse as a child.

“If it’s true you are a sex-abuse victim, then that is tragic,” said Washington County Circuit Court Judge Suzanne Upton, who sentenced him.

Toman, 33, is known as a local guitarist and founder of The Twangshifters, a band that has played at the Hillsboro Tuesday Night Market and at McMenamins Grand Lodge in Forest Grove. Before his arrest, Toman lived in a home owned by former Cornelius mayor Neal Knight, according to his attorney, John Tyner.

Toman pleaded guilty last week to three counts of first-degree sex abuse and one count of using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct. Tuesday he also pleaded guilty to an additional count of “luring a minor,” related to using a computer for communications with a girl between 11 and 14 years old, which included requesting a “blow job,” according to Deputy District Attorney Kevin Barton. That sentence will be served concurrently.

At Tuesday’s hearing, Toman said he chose to plead guilty and accept the 20 years, “as my choice to save myself and my family.” He was facing a potential life sentence, due to a combination of the state’s Measure 11 mandatory-sentencing law and its “3 Strikes” sex law, according to Tyner. Toman thanked Barton for being “nice enough” to work out an alternate plea arrangement.

Toman’s victims and their family members attended both the plea hearing and the sentencing, including one victim and her mother who drove from southern Oregon to be there.

“How dare you betray the love and friendship our families held for each other?” wrote one of the mothers in a statement to the court. Some of the abuse involved a close network of families who all lived in the same Hillsboro cul-de-sac, Tyner said, beginning when Toman moved there at age 12.

The abuse continued from 2004 to 2010 or so, Tyner said.

Tyner acknowledged that his client’s behavior was wrong and “at the very minimum it was creepy,” but also linked it to Toman’s own abuse over a period of several years when he “lived in a manufactured housing community in Aloha when he was a child.”

Toman never spoke out against his alleged abuser, identified by Tyner as “Ken,” but another child did and Ken was eventually convicted and imprisoned, Tyner said.

“A lot of times the victim becomes the victimizer,” said Tyner, noting that Toman never sought treatment for that abuse.

Tyner also objected to police reports that he claimed misrepresented the case to the public — first by making it seem that the abuse was recent and second by making it seem that it was “a guitar teacher molesting his students.”

Instead, Tyner stressed, the abuse occurred more than six or seven years ago and in some cases more than a decade ago. In addition, he said, Toman was never a guitar teacher.

The news reports “turned off his numerous musician friends and alienated his friends from his family” and Toman “has had to watch as former musical colleagues all moved to publicly denounce him,” Tyner said.

Toman himself said he had thought about making a long speech but shortened his message to say, “I’m going to make the best of this ... I’ve got a beautiful wife waiting for me.” When he gets out, Toman said, “we’ll renew our vows and go on.”