For the second time in recent weeks, Portland protest leader Micah Isaiah Rhodes stood before an Oregon judge ready to go to prison for having sexual contact with an underage teen.
And for the second time, an Oregon judge agreed to veer from state sentencing recommendations and give Rhodes five years of probation.
Multnomah County Circuit Judge Jerry Hodson on Monday said he wouldn’t send Rhodes to prison for two to 2 ½ years because he believes Rhodes earnestly is trying to change despite the prosecution’s arguments to the contrary.
“I can tell that you’re sincere and I can tell that you’ve grown a lot over the last couple of years,” Hodson said as Rhodes wiped away tears.
Rhodes was 20 and 21 at the time of his crimes, in 2014 and 2015.
In March, Rhodes pleaded guilty to two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse for at least twice having sexual contact with a 17-year-old boy. Investigators say Rhodes met the boy on a gay dating app, and the contact happened in Gresham and Troutdale.
Days earlier, a Washington County jury had found Rhodes guilty of second-degree sexual abuse of a 17-year-old girl. A defense memo said the contact happened after the girl went to watch a movie with Rhodes at his mother’s house.
Oregon law says it’s a crime for an adult to have sexual contact with a minor if there are three or more years in age difference between the two.
Age of consent laws vary from state to state, with most states allowing 16- or 17- year-olds to have sexual contact with adults. Oregon is one of about a dozen states that sets the age of consent at 18. Washington state sets the age at 16.
Rhodes, now 24, was a leader of the protest group Portland’s Resistance, which rose to prominence after Donald Trump won the presidential election in November 2016. The group helped organize day after day of marches and rallies against Trump.
Before then, Rhodes was part of Portland’s activist scene and a familiar face at Portland City Council meetings. In 2016, he helped stage a camp-out in front of then-Mayor Charlie Hales’ home.
Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney Bumjoon Park said his office often seeks probation for defendants found guilty of the same crimes as Rhodes, but he argued that Rhodes should go to prison for about two years.
He cited Rhodes’ history of sexually victimizing children, his unwillingness to follow rules and his inability to change even after attending sex offender treatment programs three times.