Judge cuts bail in Eugene Child Abuse case
Eugene, Oregon – A judge on Friday drastically reduced bail for a longtime Eugene insurance agent charged with repeated sexual abuse of a child.
After hearing attorneys’ arguments in Richard Hayes Jackson’s felony case, Lane County Circuit Judge Maurice Merten agreed to cut Jackson’s bail from $3.75 million to $1.5 million. Jackson would need to pay $150,000 to be released from the Lane County Jail.
Jackson, 61, was arrested and charged in early December with 15 offenses including five counts each of first-degree sexual abuse, first-degree sodomy and first-degree unlawful sexual penetration.
He would be sentenced to a mandatory prison term if convicted of any of the charges.
Authorities allege the abuse occurred between 2000 and 2007, beginning when the victim was under 12 years old.
Eight of Jackson’s 12 children attended his bail-reduction hearing, along with an attorney representing the female victim. The lawyer, Erin Olson of Salem, told Merten that the eight children “are uniformly aligned in opposition of (Jackson’s) release.”
“They do have legitimate fears if he is released about what he might do,” Olson said.
Jackson’s wife of 45 years, however, supported the bail-reduction request, defense attorney George Derr said. The woman waited outside the courtroom during Friday’s hearing. Court records show that she filed for divorce from Jackson soon after his arrest. The divorce was finalized this week.
Derr argued strenuously in court in favor of reducing Jackson’s bail. He said Jackson has already admitted to having abused the girl multiple times but has no other criminal history and has not been accused of committing crimes against any other victim. Jackson surrendered his passport to Eugene police prior to his arrest and is not a risk of fleeing the area if he is able to post bail, Derr said.
The lawyer added that Jackson could easily have fled Eugene before his arrest, but instead cooperated with investigators.
“He could have put himself on a plane and flown himself to Cambodia, and we wouldn’t be here right now,” Derr told Merten.
Although Jackson has admitted criminal conduct, he disputes some of the victim’s allegations regarding the frequency and type of abuse that occurred, Derr said.
One of Jackson’s sons, Eugene attorney Isaac Jackson, last month posted a public letter to his Facebook page saying his father only confessed his misdeeds because the victim had confronted him. Isaac Jackson wrote that his father had tried to persuade relatives to keep his admissions secret.
In court, prosecutor Bob Lane on Friday told Merten that Jackson’s confession came “when he felt the noose tighten around his neck.” Jackson’s children, Lane added, “feel they’ve been living a life of fraud.”
Richard Jackson opened his insurance agency in 1992 with an office on River Road. His website called him the “most beloved agent in town.”
Derr said his client’s release from the Lane County Jail would allow Jackson to finalize his agency’s closure, undergo left-knee surgery and a psychosexual evaluation, and take care of personal matters related to the divorce.