Oregon Live | By
updated January 05, 2011 at 9:50 PM
A Beaverton man who sexually abused the high school exchange student he hosted last school yearwas sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison.Craig Steven Ley, 51, facing five counts of first-degree and five counts of second-degree sex abuse, took a plea deal last month and pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree sex abuse.Washington County Judge Eric Butterfield sentenced Ley Wednesday afternoon, granting the sentence Ley and prosecutors agreed to in the deal.
The victim, a 16-year-old European boy, was living with Ley and attending a Beaverton school as a foreign exchange student when the abuse occurred.
In June 2010, the boy reported months of abuse that began early in his stay with Ley.
Deputy District Attorney Paul Maloney said Ley, an active member of the Beaverton lacrosse community, had hosted exchange students previously, but officials found no evidence of prior abuse.
Maloney described in court Wednesday how the relationship between Ley and his victim quickly escalated to the two sleeping in Ley’s bed every night and having daily sexual contact.
A visitor in a foreign country, the boy “was completely and utterly reliant on the defendant,” Maloney said.
“When he would talk to his parents over Skype,” Maloney said, “the defendant would always be lurking about; he would pop in and out sporadically throughout the phone calls.”
His parents never knew that their son’s host father lived alone, had filed bankruptcy and had a 2004 federal felony mail fraud conviction.
The teen didn’t see his family in person until his aunt came from Germany to visit him at Ley’s home in June 2010, shortly before his high school graduation, Maloney said.
He then admitted to his aunt that he slept in Ley’s bed, and his aunt recognized, “this was not the American dream,” Maloney said.
His aunt took him to CARES Northwest, a program that assesses and treats child abuse, and a criminal investigation began.
Ley pulled off the inappropriate relationship by taking advantage of the victim’s vulnerability, Maloney said, and playing off the behavior as fun and normal.
Defense attorney Devon Fooks said Ley’s actions were less sinister than Maloney described.
Fooks said his client didn’t groom or prey upon the student but leaned on him for emotional support during a troubling year. Ley developed a friendship with the boy that “went too far,” Fooks said.
The abuse didn’t occur daily or “with great frequency,” Fooks added, and sometimes the victim initiated the acts.
While those facts don’t relieve Ley of any responsibility, Fooks said, the abuse was “situational more than predatory.”
Ley addressed the court, offering an apology to his victim and family, and explaining that he genuinely cared for the victim and the previous 18 exchange students he had hosted.
“To hurt anybody who I cared for … in my home – that hurts and tears my heart apart,” he said.
For years Ley and his ex-wife alternated hosting boys and girls each year, he said, and he treated them as he would his own children.
In the 2009-10 school year, Ley said, “I had a difficult time stepping up and being an adult that year.”
Butterfield ordered Ley to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.