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PRINEVILLE, OR -- A 34-year-old Prineville man will spend the next 50 years in prison, for sexually abusing a young girl over three years, starting when she was just four years old. Timothy Gassner was sentenced Monday.

 

Crook County District Attorney Wade Whiting says it was a satisfying end to a heartbreaking case, "The mother worked a graveyard shift; the live-in boyfriend had unfettered access to the young child, unfortunately, for these three years. It wasn’t until the mother took out a restraining order against the boyfriend and he was removed from the home that the young girl felt safe to come forward and tell her story." Whiting says she waited another year to disclose the abuse because she worried Gassner would come back; he threatened to hurt her if she ever told anyone.
 
Gassner's conviction falls under Jessica’s Law, which means he won’t be eligible for early release, "Through the girl’s testimony, we could determine that there were at least 13 separate incidences where this took place," Whiting tells KBND News. "The maximum penalty the defendant was facing was the possibility of 325 years in prison. Ultimately, Judge Ahern determined that the appropriate sentence in this instance would be 50 years in prison." He’ll be on lifetime supervision when he does get out, and he’ll have to register as a sex offender.  
 
"These are the most important crimes," says D.A. Whiting, "And it really takes a very large community partner effort to get these cases to where we can take them to trial. In this instance, thankfully we had good grandparents and a mother that immediately came forward to the police. These are cases that really tug at the heartstrings. It’s heartbreaking that a four- to seven-year-old girl had to endure this kind of sexual abuse for years."

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