DA faces new challenges in cases due to Seaside officer's death - KPTV - FOX 12

DA faces new challenges in cases due to Seaside officer's death

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The charges against Ronald Flores changed from sex abuse to sexual harassment due to the lack of testimony caused by the death of Seaside Police officer Jason Goodding. (KPTV/Clatsop County) The charges against Ronald Flores changed from sex abuse to sexual harassment due to the lack of testimony caused by the death of Seaside Police officer Jason Goodding. (KPTV/Clatsop County)
SEASIDE, OR (KPTV) -

As the Clatsop County law enforcement community continues to mourn the loss of a beloved officer killed in the line of duty, they are also challenged in their effort to prosecute cases Sgt. Jason Goodding worked on.

Goodding was a witness in dozens of open cases when he died and the lead investigator in several of them, including a murder case. Under federal and Oregon law, he’d be required to testify in these cases in court.

“In America, a defendant has the right to confront the witnesses against him,” Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis explained.

Because of the lack of testimony, felony charges were dropped against a Seaside man accused of sexually abusing a child in 2008.

Ronald Flores was arrested last year on sex abuse. He faced up to eight years in prison if convicted, but Thursday those charges were dropped and he instead pleaded guilty to sexual harassment.

Since Flores had already spent a year in jail awaiting trial, he was let out Friday.

"Was it what the victim wanted? No. Was it what we wanted? No,” Marquis said. “I would have rather sent this guy to prison for a long time, but the odds of that happening were low.”

Flores’ victim was in 5th grade when she said she was abused by him. Now she’s 17, and spoke at his sentencing. She also spoke with Fox 12 Friday afternoon about what she calls injustice.

“It’s infuriating to me, because it’s like, God-forbid somebody doesn’t pay a parking ticket, but when somebody rapes somebody they get let go because everybody wants the physical evidence,” she said, adding she was deeply saddened by Goodding’s death: she’d gotten to know him well as he helped her build the case against Flores.

Another big case Goodding was working on is the murder case of Randy Lee Roden of Seaside that involved the horrific death of a toddler.

Police said Roden tortured and killed his girlfriend’s two-year-old daughter, Evangelina Wing in 2014.

“Jason was the case agent, the primary officer, on the Roden case, so the other detective, who may have not been at the scene, has to acquaint himself with everything, and that’s hard,” Marquis said.

The district attorney also said there are other cases where his office had to let guilty people go free, including two DUII cases were dropped after Goodding’s death.

“It hurts to know somebody is walking,” Marquis said. "What you really are scared of as a prosecutor is that someone that you have to let walk for some reason, is going to come back and do something worse later.”

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