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Child sex abuser found guilty on 25 of 28 Measure 11 charges

Douglas Turnbow
Douglas Turnbow

Jan 28, 2013


By Paul Daquilante
Of the News-Register


His privately retained attorney, Amy Margolis of Portland, called only one witness before resting — the defendant himself. Deputy District Attorney Kate Petersen rested after calling one of the victims as her final prosecution witness.

Margolis moved for a directed aquittal, but Judge John Collins denied her motion.

The trial was scheduled to resume at 9 this morning with closing arguments. Collins was then scheduled to deliver instructions so the jury of two women and 10 men could begin its deliberations.

Turnbow, who underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery in 1997, collapsed Wednesday afternoon, during the second day of the trial. He was transported from the courthouse by McMinnville Fire Department ambulance to the Willamette Valley Medical Center and kept overnight for observation.

He did not suffer a heart attack, Collins told the jury Monday, when the trial resumed. He said the medical event should in no way affect their decision-making.

Turnbow, a retired long-haul trucker from McMinnville, stands accused of abusing five girls, ages 4 to 10 at the time, in the hot tub and bedroom of his home in 1995, 1996 and 1997.

He was indicted by a grand jury on three counts of first-degree sexual penetration with a foreign object, a Class A felony, and 29 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony. One of the abuse charges was dismissed earlier.

Petersen made a motion to dismiss three more of the abuse charges Monday and it was granted by Collins. All 28 remaining counts are punishable by lengthy mandatory-minimum prison sentences under Measure 11.

Turnbow was served with the indictment on Sept. 10, 2010.

The case was set for trial numerous times, but had not gone forward until now, largely due to defense delays. He has remained out of custody.

One of Turnbow’s accusers, between 4 and 6 at the time, was the first to come forward. Through the investigation and interviews, four more girls were identified.

All reported being abused in the hot tub. One, who stayed with Turnbow and his wife for a time, also reported being abused by him in their bedroom.

Turnbow said he and his wife, Margaret, moved to McMinnville in 1977. He started driving a long-haul truck in 1973, he said, and retired in 2007, following a work-related crash.

After a 1997 heart attack, and the ensuing surgery, his doctor ordered him to avoid use of the hot tub, he said. His doctor also ordered him to avoid the presence of children in his home, due to the potential for stress, he said, and he obeyed on both counts.

Margolis asked him if he denied each of the allegations against him and he said that he did. She described the allegations made by each of the five girls, and Turnbow denied all of them, repeatedly saying, “Absolutely not,” and insisting in one response, “I have done absolutely nothing.”

Turnbow said he has no recollection of ever being in the hot tub with any of the girls. He also denied having ever been in bed with one of them, as alleged.

He said he had disciplined one of the girls after she spit on a neighbor’s wife during a confrontation. “I swatted her on the butt and she said, ‘I’ll get even with you,’” he testified.

Following his 1997 heart attack, and a diabetes diagnosis, he lost sexual desire, he said.

His wife, Margaret, who had testified earlier, returned to the witness stand Monday afternoon to say she and her husband have not had sex in 22 years, which would date back to about 1991.

The final witness called by Petersen during Monday’s proceedings said she was in the fourth grade when Turnbow abused her. She is now 25, married, the mother off two and pregnant, she said.

She recalled spending time with the Turnbows at their home. She said she initially enjoyed the time she spent there because the couple was very accepting.

There were three instances during which time she said Turnbow sexually abused her.

She recalled being in the hot tub with him and two other girls, also among the victims identified in the case. She was wearing a bathing suit and Turnbow was wearing shorts, she said.

She said her bathing suit would “float up,” and he would “pop” the suit with his hand. Later, she said, he touched a private area and engaged in what she described as a rubbing motion, making her feel uncomfortable.

After Turnbow got out of the hot tub, she and the other girls took a shower. She said he approached her afterward in the bedroom and placed his hand on her inner thigh.

“He rubbed all the way up,” she said. When she raised objection, she testified, “He said, ‘Shut your f------ mouth.’”

She said, “I wanted to go home, I just wanted to go home.”

She and the other two girls ended up spending the night at the Turnbow home, she testified, and he approached her in the bedroom with his “privates not covered.” He positioned himself on his knees on a futon, she said, and touched her and made her touch him.

“It hurt,” she said. “It didn’t feel right.

“My sister screamed for Margaret. He told me to be quiet. Margaret came into the room and then walked out.”

Margolis’ motion for acquittal was based on a lack of corroboration.

“What one of the victims said, two others said it did not happen,” Margolis said. “You had each witness disapproving of statements by the others. There is no evidence that during this broad time frame that these incidents occurred.”

In denying the motion, Collins said with the long passage of time, it was not surprising there were inconsistencies in the testimony.

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