A Birch Bay man could serve anywhere from 20 years to life in prison after pleading guilty to molesting a child at his home in Birch Bay.
Richard W. McCoy, 26, has entered a guilty plea to one count each of first degree rape of a child and first degree child molestation, Whatcom County prosecuting attorney James Hulbert said. Hulbert recommended a sentence range of 20 years to life for McCoy.
“That’s a recommendation I expect will be joined by the defense,” Hulbert said.
The state Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board will ultimately decide how long McCoy spends in prison, but it will be a minimum of 20 years. The board will review McCoy’s condition after 20 years and determine if additional prison time is necessary.
“They could keep him there for the rest of his life,” Hulbert said.
The charges against McCoy stem from his molestation of a boy and a girl under the age of 10.
Hulbert said McCoy seemed to take responsibility for actions by pleading guilty. Hulbert explained that it’s not uncommon for individuals to plead not guilty to child molestation charges and force a trial.
“He could have thought, ‘I might as well roll the dice [and bring the case to trial],’” Hulbert said. “A lot of people in his shoes do that. If there’s anything positive in this, it’s that he accepted responsibility and didn’t put [the] children in the position to talk about it [at trial].”
Hulbert said he was surprised with the speed at which this case was resolved, having filed the charges in late January. He said this was due to stellar investigative work by the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the willingness of the children to tell detectives what had happened to them.
“I’ll never again have a case with evidence as strong as it was in this one,” Hulbert said. “It’s a tribute to strength of the children involved. It’s a pretty gruesome deal, but it could have been a hell of lot worse.”
In 2000, McCoy, at the age of 14, pleaded guilty to first and second degree rape of a child stemming from abuse of a 12-year-old boy in Bellingham. Juvenile records show McCoy was required to register as a sex offender with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
Whatcom County sheriff’s detective Matt Lathrop said McCoy is currently registered as a level one sex offender. Level one is the lowest risk offender status and was automatically triggered after McCoy’s juvenile conviction.