Why did Lara get less than five years?
BY JIM FLYNN
On Feb. 26 former Eugene Police officer Juan Francisco Lara was sentenced to less than five years for crimes relating to sexual abuse of women and other acts of misconduct while on duty. Eleven victims spoke at the hearing about how Lara's actions have irrevocably changed their lives for the worse. Many of the victims reported that they were so afraid of Lara that they had to move away from Eugene.
Lara never took responsibility for his crimes, and instead attempted the age-old defense that the women wanted it. The hearing revealed Lara's own boastful admissions that he was "just thinking with his dick," and that his job was all about "getting a piece of ass." The plea deal was arranged in a shady after-hours proceeding where this rapist was even allowed to weasel out of being convicted as a sex offender!
The bust of Lara (and of Roger Magaña, currently in jail awaiting trial) is just the tip of the iceberg. The EPD is filled with cops who abuse their power as police officers every day and severely violate the public's trust.
I wonder if the new chief intends to really clean house or just make public scapegoats of these two cops. Will any officers be suspended or fired as a result of the investigation into the sex crimes? One thing is clear: They need to clean up their act before coming to the community for more tax money!
Let's clearly show this travesty of justice for what it really is. Perhaps you recall the case of Jeffrey Luers. On June 16, 2000, this 22-year-old man set three SUVs on fire in the Romania car lot to make a political statement. The punishment for this minor property crime: 22.5 years in prison! There were no backroom deals in this case; as a matter of fact, there were no plea offers made to him at all. The only victim in this case was a car dealership that collected a hefty insurance check.
What did the women who were raped and victimized by Lara get? Nothing. They did not receive a dime in victim compensation (although the DA asked for it, the judge denied it) and were harshly cross-examined by Lara's defense attorney, Dan Koenig. They were humiliated by the slap on the wrist that Lara received in this plea bargain proceeding, and now must attempt to get on with their lives.
It is appalling and outrageous that a young man has been sentenced to 22.5 years for a minor arson, and an officer sworn to uphold the law and protect the community has been sentenced to 54 months by the exact same court of law for sexually abusing while in uniform at least 10 women in this community without even having to register as a sex offender — a title he has more than earned by his own deviant, dishonest and evil actions. This situation makes a mockery of the courts, the criminal justice system and equal protection of the law — the foundation of the U.S. Constitution.
Jim Flynn is an 11-year Eugene resident and police critic who was repeatedly pepper-sprayed by EPD officers at the June 1, 1997, protest of downtown tree removal to build the Broadway/Charnelton project.