By Russell Hixson / Skagit Valley Herald
MOUNT VERNON — A Skagit County Superior Court judge sentenced Chad Chenoweth on Thursday to 8½ years in prison for first-degree incest, his 14th sex offense and his first involving an adult victim.
“I consider sex offenses, short of death, the most damaging thing a victim can go through,” Judge Dave Needy said after issuing his sentence for the Bow-area man.
Deputy Prosecutor Erin Dyer argued Chenoweth is a repeat offender with an offender score that is off the charts at 36. The Prosecutor’s Office measures only up to a score of nine to calculate sentencing ranges. She said that to have a sentence run concurrently with that from Chenoweth’s previous conviction would make this offense a “free crime” and send a message to the victim that the case is unimportant.
Defense attorney Wesley Richards argued parts of his client’s criminal history shouldn’t be taken into consideration, the offender score is inflated, and that Needy shouldn’t give an exceptional sentence just because he can.
Chenoweth, 34, is already in prison serving an 8½-year sentence for six counts of third-degree child rape and six counts of first-degree incest for ongoing sexual abuse of a different victim. The new sentence is the highest in the range Needy could allow and will run consecutively to Chenoweth’s current prison term for a total of 17 years, with credit for time served.
“I’m pleased,” Dyer said. “It’s a fair outcome, it’s a just outcome.”
Richards declined to comment on the ruling but said he intends to file an appeal. Bail for an appeal was set at $500,000, for a total of $1 million when combined with the previous Skagit County conviction.
The incident, involving a victim with mental disabilities, occurred in 2011 but was not reported until a year later, according to court records.
When the two most recent cases were brought, Chenoweth was already a level 1 sex offender due to a 1993 conviction in Idaho for lewd conduct with a minor. That case stemmed from abuse of a child who was about 4 years old, according to a criminal-history report.