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Crowd supports vigilante suspects

Two men accused of vigilante justice against a man who allegedly molested two teenage girls appeared in Jackson County Circuit Court Thursday supported by friends, family and the alleged victims' mother.

Christopher Garrett, 19, and Moses LaPorte, 18, each pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and second- and third-degree assault related to their alleged actions in retaliation for suspected sexual assaults perpetrated by 23-year-old Mark Alexander Tabor.

"I don't believe the guys should be in jail," said the alleged victims' mother.

The woman attended the arraignment hearing held in Judge Tim Barnack's courtroom, and spoke to the Mail Tribune following the proceedings. She asked not to be identified to protect her children.

Tabor is 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 the sisters on Aug. 11.

While Tabor's initial charges were related to two young teen girls, the girls' mother said at least one more victim has come forward. Court records show more sex abuse charges have been added against Tabor.

Medford attorney Tom Petersen told the Mail Tribune last Thursday that he represents the two girls who allege Tabor sexually molested them "in a violent manner" in their home on Aug. 11.

Hours later, LaPorte and Garrett allegedly attacked Tabor. 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 allegedly struck in the head with the baton before fleeing. 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.

Peterson said late last week that Tabor became enmeshed with the family because an earlier incident of domestic violence between the girls' parents led the state Department of Human Services to require that the father's visits with the girls must be supervised.

Tabor inserted himself into the situation, Petersen said, adding Tabor had conducted visits with the children's father and had visited the house prior to the alleged attack. Petersen said Tabor's attacks included forcible kissing, biting, fondling and digital penetration.

The mother said Thursday that Tabor was in the home because DHS approved and cleared him to supervise visitation. She stated Garrett had been the approved visitation supervisor but was going to Portland for two weeks and Tabor was approved to step in.

Doug Mares, DHS district manager for Jackson and Josephine counties, stated emphatically on Monday that Tabor was neither approved by or affiliated with Jackson County child protective services in any way.

Tabor was taken to Rogue Regional Medical Center, where he was treated and released before being arrested by Medford police. He remained in the Jackson County jail Thursday on $300,000 bail. LaPorte and Garrett were being held on $750,000 bail each.

Court records show none of the three men have any criminal history in Oregon. All have preliminary hearings slated for 1:30 p.m., Sept. 4.

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