A Medford man will likely spend the rest of his life in prison after a Jackson County jury found him guilty of more than two dozen counts of rape and sodomy perpetrated against his daughter and another young victim.
The case against William Henry Thompson, 50, is one of the most disturbing in memory, according to the prosecutor who spent three days laying out Thompson's twisted path from grooming to raping to methamphetamine addiction to sexual torture.
The Jackson County Child Abuse Network, a coalition of local agencies led by United Way, is dedicated to raising community awareness about child abuse. Call the network at 541-773-5339 to find out how you can help. If you suspect a child is being abused, call the police, or the Jackson County Child Welfare Office at 866-840-2741.
Jurors late Thursday afternoon returned 26 guilty verdicts — most of which were unanimous.
"I've never see a person whose actions were so degrading," said David Orr, Jackson County deputy district attorney. "Not only to the victims, but also to the human race as a whole. That's how bad it was."
The daughter had already been sexually abused by her stepfather when she began staying with Thompson, Orr said. Thompson's abuse of his own child began when she was about 12 and continued into her high school years, he said.
Telling his daughter she needed to learn how to please herself and boyfriends, Thompson directed her how to perform sexual acts on herself and on props, Orr said.
"He told her she couldn't talk about any of this because society just wouldn't understand," he said.
Thompson coerced his daughter to allow herself to be blindfolded and have intercourse in the cab of his truck with a person he called "Kevin." It was all for her education to learn how to give and receive pleasure, Thompson told the child.
The rapes continued for a long time. She was always blindfolded and told any communication from "Kevin" would be relayed through the father. Eventually Thompson's daughter came to realize "Kevin" was her father.
"She was upset," Orr said. "He apologized for the deception. But not for the rapes. He told the her, 'No one would love her like he did, and he didn't want her to lose her virginity to an a—hole.' "
The sexual abuse continued for years. And Thompson's predilections became even darker, Orr said. The girl was subjected to bondage, beatings and branding. He branded an double "S" for slave on her chest with an iron. He pressed so hard, the letters are hard to decipher. But she showed them to the jury, Orr said.
He forced her to wear a dog collar and crawl after him. Eventually he got her addicted to methamphetamine and prostituted her out to several men while he watched and masturbated, Orr said.
The daughter's friend was drawn into Thompson's web of sexual perversion. The second child's father had committed suicide and her mother was dying, he said.
"He knew exactly who to target," Orr said, adding that Thompson would ply the young teens with alcohol and cigarettes, but would attend Alcoholics Anonymous meetings himself.
One night, after returning home from an AA meeting, Thompson realized the girls had been drinking while he wasn't there. He woke the second victim up, put his hand over her mouth and raped her, Orr said.
"The next morning he raped her again. She didn't tell," Orr said.
Thompson continued to sexually abuse the girls. Neither knew the other was being abused because Thompson had them so under his control, Orr said.
The second victim eventually told her story to someone at school. The series of interviews that followed eventually led to Thompson's arrest.
Both victims are now in their early 20s. They each testified on the stand for hours, telling of their experiences before a room filled with strangers, facing direct examination from Orr and a cross-examination from Thompson's defense attorney, Christine Herbert. The young women displayed little emotion while giving their testimony, Orr said.
"It's an uphill battle," Orr said. "Jurors have this notion we'll come in with DNA evidence and a teary-eyed, pig-tailed little girl with red ribbons in her hair. But in the majority of these cases the reporting is years delayed."
A prosecutor's challenge is often not only to build his case, but also to educate the jury about the dynamics of sexual abuse — particularly one that occurs over months and years between an adult and a child, Orr said. Jurors want to know why victims didn't go to authorities immediately, or why they endured the abuse, he said.
"The reasons for delay vary," Orr said. "There is shame, there is fear, there is even sometimes a lack of understanding that something that shouldn't have happened, happened."
Thompson is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 18 before Judge Tim Barnack on all 26 sexual abuse counts, 14 of which are Measure 11 charges.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.