On July 19, 2018, a Washington County jury unanimously convicted 40 year-old Michael Henry Forker of nine child sex crimes stemming from his abuse of a homeless 16 year-old boy in 2002. The verdict came after three days of trial in which jurors in the courtroom of Judge Ricardo J. Menchaca heard testimony from Forker's now grown victim as he relived the abuse that has tormented him for a decade and a half. Forker now faces a maximum sentence of over 40 years in prison.

The case against Forker began back in 2003 when investigators from the Washington County Sheriff's Office seized his vast collection of child pornography. Forker was eventually convicted of Encouraging Child Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree for the possession of those materials, but investigators always suspected that Forker had personally abused a victim in the Washington County area. After being revoked from his probation Forker moved back to Idaho, where he was repeatedly investigated on suspicion of additional crimes against underage boys. The victim reported that he could not bring himself to speak up in 2003, but found the courage after learning of these subsequent investigations.

At trial, jurors learned that at the time of the abuse the victim was homeless and vulnerable after a painful experience coming out as homosexual. Forker befriended the victim online and moved from Idaho to Aloha to begin sexually abusing the teen. Once in Oregon, Forker also volunteered at the Outside In shelter for homeless youth and applied to be an overnight counselor at a residential treatment program for teenage boys.

This case is another reminder that the victims of child sex crimes often wait to report past abuse. Child sex abuse occurs at a time and place of the abuser's choosing, frequently when there are no other witnesses and physical evidence can be hidden or destroyed. Persons wishing to report child sex abuse are encouraged to contact any law enforcement agency, the Department of Human Services child abuse reporting hotline at 503-681-6917, or to simply call 911.

Detective Dawn Vandenhey with the Washington County Sheriff's Office headed the investigation, and the case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy District Attorney Megan Johnson. Forker's convictions include Sexual Abuse in the First Degree, five counts of Sexual Abuse in the Second Degree, and three counts of Sodomy in the First Degree. Forker is expected to be sentenced in late September, 2018.

July 27, 2018