The teenager slowly approached the judge’s bench Friday, and trembled slightly as she spoke at the sentencing of the Pierce County man who sexually abused her.
“I didn’t think twice about how friendly you were,” she told 38-year-old Jason Wilks.
Last year, a jury convicted Wilks of sexually abusing five of his minor daughter’s friends during sleepovers at his home over a period of years, and of supplying the girls with alcohol and marijuana.
Superior Court Judge Stanley Rumbaugh gave Wilks 23 years, four months for his crimes, less than the 40 years Deputy Prosecutor John Cummings recommended.
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Defense attorney Barbara Corey argued that 40 years would be excessive, and said Wilks had no significant criminal history and had taken care of his family.
At the end of Wilks’ trial in November, the jury found him guilty of second-degree child molestation, third-degree child rape, five counts of third-degree child molestation, five counts of giving liquor to a minor, and three counts of giving a minor drugs.
They acquitted him of one third-degree child rape charge.
“The victims broke down on the stand, cried as they recalled the molestation, and huddled in on themselves while recounting the abuse,” Cummings wrote the court in his sentencing memorandum.
He said Wilks hosted parties for his daughter’s friends, gained the girls’ trust, gave them alcohol and marijuana, and then raped or molested them.
According to charging papers, the abuse happened from 2012 through 2014. It came to light when one of the victims told a counselor Wilks had given the girls hard alcohol, and that she’d fallen asleep and woke to find Wilks touching her inappropriately.
“His actions demonstrate more than mere lack of judgment or poor impulse control; they exhibit a calculated and intentionally orchestrated effort to cultivate pliable victims, victimize them, and evade detection,” Cummings wrote.
One victim, who told investigators the abuse started when she was in eighth grade, wrote the court: “I hate that he made me feel weak and broken. I feel weak for not telling anyone and speaking up.”
Loved ones wrote the court that the charges are out of character for Wilks, whom they described as very dedicated to his family.
His wife told Rumbaugh that Wilks’ children need their father.
When it was Wilks’ turn to speak, he asked for mercy, and said, “I’m a law-abiding citizen. I always have been.”
And he said he’s instilled that value in his children.
As for the young woman who addressed Wilks — one of two victims who spoke at his sentencing — she told him: “There was not an ounce of consent. … Consent is not just an absence of the word no.”
She told Wilks she’s been accepted to the college of her dreams and is an advocate for teen drug use prevention.
“I will never judge myself for what you did to me,” she said.