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Former SHS principal sentenced to 10 years for child pornography

Robert Paul Patton was sentenced in U.S. District Court


by: FILE PHOTO COURTESY OF KOIN LOCAL 6 -  Robert Paul Patton appears in Multnomah County Court in April 2013 after being sentenced to two years in prison for sexually abusing a 12-year-old boy.A former Sherwood High School principal has been sentenced to more than 10 years in prison following his plea of guilty to possession of child pornography.

Robert Paul Patton, 45, was sentenced Tuesday before Senior U.S. District Judge Garr M. King, who gave him a 127-month prison sentence followed by a ten-year term of supervised release.

Patton will be subject to stringent conditions of supervision, including prohibitions on associating with minors, restrictions on where he can live, and restrictions on his use of computers, according to a news release from U.S. Attorney for Oregon S. Amanda Marshall’s office.

In addition, he will be required to participate in sex offender treatment, and must continue to register as a sex offender.

This is Patton’s fourth criminal conviction. In 2003, he was convicted in Washington County of possessing materials depicting sexually explicit conduct of a child and two counts of third-degree sexual abuse, after twice having sexual relations with a 16-year-old boy.

The latter incident involved a Clackamas County youth, who was not a Sherwood High School student. Patton, who served as principal at Sherwood High from 2000 to 2002, met the boy in an internet chat room.

Then, in 2011, he was convicted in Multnomah County of failure to register as a sex offender.

In 2013, Patton was convicted in Multnomah County of attempted first degree sexual abuse in connection with an incident involving a 12-year-old boy.

During the course of that investigation, detectives from the Portland Police Bureau served a state search warrant at Patton’s Milwaukie residence, and seized computer equipment later found to contain child pornography, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. After filing and litigating motions to suppress the evidence seized from his residence, Patton pled guilty to possessing child pornography, reserving the right to appeal the denial of his motions.

Marshall praised the sentence imposed on Patton, noting that it reflected the serious nature of Patton’s criminal conduct. “Prior to being caught in possession of child pornography, which lead to the conviction in this case, Robert Patton had a criminal history going back to when he was a high school principal who possessed child pornography and sexually abused a teenage boy,” she said in the release. “Patton’s conduct was particularly concerning, because it suggests an ongoing sexual interest in children that did not abate following his first conviction.”

She also said that Patton’s sentence “sends a clear message to those who prey on our children.”

Because of his prior Washington County conviction, Patton faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison. In imposing the 127-month sentence, Judge King took into account the nature and seriousness of the offense, Patton’s background, history, and characteristics, the need to provide just punishment and adequate deterrence, and the need to protect the public.

Judge King noted that Patton served a 24-month sentence in the Multnomah County attempted sex abuse case, and while serving that sentence, made “good use” and “appropriate use” of his time, tutoring other inmates, completing training courses, and participating in various activities.

King also noted that Patton had “a great deal of support” from his family. For his part, Patton apologized to his victims, sought forgiveness, and promised to “get help.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Launched in May 2006 by the U.S. Department of Justice and led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and the Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state, and local resources to better locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.

This case was investigated by the Beaverton Police Department, the Portland Police Bureau, and the Northwest Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory, and was prosecuted by Assistant U. S. Attorney Gary Sussman, Project Safe Childhood coordinator for the District of Oregon.

Patton’s most recent conviction was an extensive fall from grace. He was named Sherwood High’s principal in the summer of 2000 after serving as an assistant principal at Sprague High School in Salem for two years. At Sprague, he was an assistant basketball coach for the boy’s freshmen team and appeared in Sprague’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”

(Sherwood Gazette Editor Ray Pitz also contributed to this report.)