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Since You Asked

I was just reading this article (regarding Little League coach Eric Sell's conviction for the third-degree rape of a 14-year-old girl who played on his team). I noticed that the sentence was only 30 days, yet there was nothing in the article to indicate why he got such a light sentence.

Was it statutory rape (consensual sex)? Otherwise, I would expect the public outcry to be deafening...

— Susan W., Corvallis

Susan, you are not the only one who has wondered about Sell's sentence for admitting to raping a minor. Mail Tribune Forums are full of outraged comments — as are our mailboxes and voice mail.

Please remember this case involves a minor and a 31-year-old man. Not only are we trying to protect the identity of the minor, some information in this case is simply not public record.

Here's part of what we know. There is no such thing as "consensual sex" under the law between an adult and a minor, says David Hoppe, Jackson County deputy district attorney.

Eric Robert Sell pleaded guilty in October 2007 to a charge of third-degree rape — a class C felony defined under Oregon law as sexual contact with a person who is too young to give consent. The maximum sentence for this crime is five years in prison, said Hoppe.

The presentencing investigation is not public record.

Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Patricia Crain publicly admonished Sell, who declined to comment at his sentencing, for taking advantage of his position of trust and sentenced him to 30 days in jail and three years' supervised probation.

Sell is now registered as a sex offender and will have to undergo sex abuse counseling, submit to HIV, DNA and polygraph testing, and have no contact with the victim or unsupervised visitation with minor children.

Sell must report to jail on his birthday, Jan. 21, to begin serving his sentence, which was based on a post-plea sentencing investigation and the fact he had no prior history of sexual assault.

"He was given no special treatment," said Hoppe.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.