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Two men receive probation after pleading guilty to vigilante attack

Two men were sentenced to probation after pleading guilty Wednesday to a vigilante attack against a man who allegedly molested two teenage girls.

Christopher Garrett, 20, pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault, and Moses LaPorte, 19, pleaded guilty to second-degree assault. All other charges were dropped in the Wednesday afternoon plea agreement hearing in Jackson County Circuit Court.

The pair were facing Measure 11 attempted murder and second- and third-degree assault charges related to their retaliatory actions for the alleged sexual assaults perpetrated by 23-year-old Mark Alexander Tabor on Aug 11, 2012.

LaPorte and Garrett had been held in the Jackson County Jail on $750,000 bail.

Tabor remains in the Jackson County Jail on $300,000 bail, charged with two counts of first-degree sexual abuse, one count of second-degree sexual abuse and five counts of third-degree sexual abuse for allegedly attacking two girls who are sisters on Aug. 11.

LaPorte pleaded guilty to the single Measure 11 charge of second-degree assault, which would typically require a 70-month sentence. But his defense attorneys, Jeni Feinberg and Carl Caplan, successfully argued before Judge Benjamin Bloom that their client's lack of criminal history, his full cooperation with police and the fact that Tabor's injuries were less severe than typical for an assault of this type qualified him for the lesser sentence.

"I feel terrible about what happened," LaPorte said, adding he has used his time in jail since the incident to get "in a more stable state of mind."

LaPorte will be heading to a drug rehabilitation program in Vermont, where he will have the support of his family, Caplan said.

Caplan said Tabor, who is being represented by Robert Abel, had "no problem" with the negotiations that resulted in LaPorte's and Garrett's plea agreements.

Public defender Sara Collins also negotiated zero jail time and a three-year probationary period for her client. Garrett pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree assault. He also apologized for his actions, and the other charges were dropped.

Medford attorney Tom Petersen told the Mail Tribune in late August that he represents the two girls who allege Tabor sexually molested them "in a violent manner" in their home. Tabor inserted himself into a family situation, Petersen said, adding Tabor's attacks included forcible kissing, biting, fondling and digital penetration.

Hours later, LaPorte and Garrett allegedly attacked Tabor in retaliation.

Armed with a baton and a wrench, the pair drove Tabor to the remote Elderberry Flats campground about 20 miles north of Rogue River and beat him, police said. Tabor was struck in the head with LaPorte's baton before he fled. Tabor managed to get a ride with someone, and was dropped off at a gas station in White City, where he called authorities, police said.

After the attack, Tabor was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released before being arrested by Medford police.

Bloom said he remembered the two men, and the serious natures of their charges, from presiding over their arraignment hearings.

The judge told the defendants that they had "racked up" quite a criminal history on their formerly clean records by participating in vigilante justice.

"The system may not work as fast as you might like it to," Bloom said. "But you can't be the law. It is very important you don't take the law into your own hands."

Bloom told the men they would face prison time if they violated the terms of their probation, which include staying away from each other and the victim.

Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or email sspecht@mailtribune.com.

Two men receive probation after pleading guilty to vigilante attack