A former Grant County resident pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree sodomy Aug. 2.
Chancee Ferguson, 29, of Bend was indicted by a grand jury in Wheeler County in 2017 on two counts of first-degree sodomy and one count of first-degree sexual abuse for a 2006 incident with a single victim younger than 12 at the time.
As part of a plea deal, Ferguson pleaded guilty to a lesser attempt-to-commit charge, a Class B felony, and the other charges were dismissed.
The Wheeler County indictment was filed soon after Ferguson pleaded guilty to several charges in Grant County — attempted first-degree sexual abuse, a Class C felony, and two misdemeanor charges of sexual misconduct — as part of a plea deal in which eight felony charges were dismissed.
The charges in both counties stemmed from the same victim, who lived in Grant County at the time. Wheeler County District Attorney Gretchen Ladd said in a statement Ferguson at age 17 molested a relative in Wheeler County while traveling back to John Day from Bend.
A judge denied Ferguson’s motion to dismiss the Wheeler County case, ruling the Grant County settlement did not follow the correct protocols to address incidents in other counties, despite the belief of some of the participants that it was a global settlement. As part of the Wheeler County settlement, Deschutes County agreed not to pursue charges from the investigation.
In last year’s Grant County case, Ferguson was sentenced to 364 days in jail and five years of probation and was ordered to complete sex offender treatment and register as a sex offender.
In the recent Wheeler County case, Ferguson was sentenced to five years of probation with a possible prison sentence of 35-40 months if revoked, according to Ladd, and was ordered to wear an ankle monitor with GPS locator for 10 months, rather than serve jail time. He was ordered to pay $3,553 in restitution and complete 400 hours of community service.
The victim said in court the abuse began at age 7 and lasted until age 14.
“The man who sodomized me was an older, trusted family member,” the victim read in court. “... It did not feel like abuse at the time, but it was sodomy. I did not know the impact it would have on me until I found myself on the brink of suicide.”
The victim also criticized the criminal justice system, stating “survivors deserve a trauma-informed system that provides support and protection,” but said the process helps people regain their voice.
“Fellow survivors, trust the process,” the victim read. “Justice may not always be served adequately, but an overwhelming sense of empowerment comes with breaking the silence. Our stories need to be heard. I am proud to have persevered the challenges of prosecution to hold my abuser accountable and to see this door close.”