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the Valley TODAY

Greenway rapist sentenced to 8 years

MEDFORD &

The man who raped a 15-year-old girl on the Bear Creek Greenway last year will spend more than eight years in prison. Christopher Richard Valdez, 34, heard his sentence of eight years and four months Monday in Jackson County Circuit Court. In addition to the prison term &

the mandatory penalty under Oregon law &

Valdez must be supervised for 20 years after his release and must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

A jury in December convicted Valdez of first- and third-degree rape but acquitted him of assaulting and kidnapping the victim. She did not appear in court Monday.

The girl testified during Valdez&

s two-day trial that she was on her way to school on March 4 last year when Valdez approached her on the bike path. While Valdez started a conversation with her, two other men jumped out of nearby blackberry bushes.

One man struck her in the face, knocking her to the ground, the victim said. Valdez and the other man dragged her through the briars to a tent, where they injected her with an unknown substance, and each raped her, she testified. DNA evidence showed Valdez&

s semen was inside the victim when she was examined at Three Rivers Community Hospital in Grants Pass.

The girl also identified Valdez in a photo lineup and accurately described two tattoos on his chest. Police could not establish identities for the other two men.

County Commission race filling up

A political newcomer and Ashland businessman has become the second democratic challenger in the race for the Jackson County Commissioner seat held by Jack Walker.

&

It&

s either put up or shut up,&

said 59-year-old Tom Winmill, who filed his candidacy Monday. &

I&

m tired of complaining about where the county is headed, where the growth is headed.&

Winmill is sales and marketing manager at COBI Digital in Medford and helped open The Vintage Inn in Ashland in 1972 with partner Mike Mahar. A lifelong Democrat, Winmill will be challenging Carl Worden, of Eagle Point, in the May 16 primary. The winner will take on incumbent Walker.

&

I think he is doing as good a job as the information he has,&

said Winmill of Walker, while adding, &

I don&

t think he&

s taking enough information to make his decisions.&

Winmill said he supports growth in the valley, but wants more citizen involvement in how the growth takes place.

&

I&

m running because I believe that county government needs to be more accessible and responsive to the people,&

he said.

While supporting some aspects of Measure 37, Winmill said the property rights initiative, recently upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court, was written too broadly.

He said the measure will eventually lead to disputes between neighbors with competing interests. Walker, responding to Winmill&

s remark that he doesn&

t consider enough information to base his decisions, said that on recent issues that have come before the board of commissioners he has pushed for more time before voting.

&

That&

s kind of funny,&

he said. &

That&

s what everybody complained about &

that I had waited too long.&

Walker was referring to a recent decision on expanding a livestock district near the Siskiyou Summit. Worden, Winmill&

s challenger in the primary, welcomed him into the race, saying, &

I&

m not running against anybody, I&

m running for Jackson County.&

&

Staff reports