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Medford man found guilty of rape, victim released from jail

A jury has found a Medford man guilty of multiple sex crimes following a four-day trial that took the unusual step of holding the victim in jail for nine days to ensure she’d testify in court.

Christian Alexander Sanchez, 30, was found guilty by a jury Friday of more than a dozen felony crimes that occurred between February and September 2020, including rape, sodomy, kidnapping, coercion, assault and weapon use charges stemming from incidents involving one female victim, now 20 years old, who was reportedly held against her will and forced her to engage in sex acts with Sanchez.

According to filings by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, Sanchez used weapons against the woman that included a hammer, a lighter and a screwdriver.

“It was a horrific situation,” Deputy District Attorney Nick Geil, who prosecuted the case alongside Deputy District Attorney Zori Cook, said when reached by phone Monday.

The 20-year-old woman was in the Jackson County Jail Sept. 6-15 on a material witness hold, court and jail records show. The trial was Sept. 13-16.

Oregon Revised Statute 146.608 allows a district attorney or defendant to apply for a material witness hold in cases where they believe the witness has “information material to the determination of the action against the defendant” and “will not appear at the time when attendance of the witness is required.”

Judge Lorenzo Mejia ordered the woman detained until Sanchez’s trial completed based on a motion earlier this month filed by Cook.

Mejia and Cook each stated on the record before the trial that the material witness hold was unusual but necessary. Cook described the woman as someone who struggles with addiction and often lives on the streets. Cook and the victim’s family were among those who supported holding the witness in jail.

The victim’s lawyer, Donald Scales, requested a less restrictive option such as an ankle bracelet so the woman’s mother could administer the victim’s suboxone to treat an opiate addiction. Mejia, however, stated the county’s ankle bracelet program is more effective at showing someone out of compliance than locating someone who’s missing.

Geil described the victim’s testimony as important.

“In any case the victim’s testimony is going to be vital to tell a jury what happened,” Geil said.

The jury convicted Sanchez Friday of first-degree rape, first-degree sodomy, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of second-degree assault, three counts of unlawful use of a weapon, coercion, causing a person to ingest a controlled substance and two counts of fourth-degree assault constituting domestic violence.

Sanchez will be sentenced Oct. 6. Geil declined to say what sentence prosecutors will seek ahead of that sentencing.

Prosecutors have previously stated in court filings that they intend to seek stiffer penalties, including a “threat of actual violence” in each of the 12 charges and “use of a weapon” in one of the kidnapping charges.

Mejia ordered Sanchez to remain in jail without bail until sentencing.

Sanchez has multiple prior felony convictions and was sentenced to six years in prison in 2013 after a pleading guilty to charges of third-degree rape, second-degree sexual abuse, second-degree online sexual corruption of a child and using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct. The charges stem from an October 2012 Medford police arrest surrounding abuses of underage girls.

Reach web editor Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwebeditor.