District Attorney and Victim's Mother at Odds Over Plea Bargain

COQUILLE, Ore.-- The mother of an underaged girl accused of having a sexual relationship with a Coast Guard serviceman says the Coos County District Attorney's office is being too hard on the serviceman accused of statutorily raping her daughter.

Kellie Garkow told Judge Michael Gillespie that she had not been notified of a plea deal on Monday, but Garkow tells KCBY outside of the courtroom that she also disgreed with it.

"They want to make him a sex offender, and that's not right," Garkow said. "What they are offering will ruin him for the rest of his life."

Garkow said she and Kanada's family have stayed in touch during the process by offering support and comfort to each other. She said her family loves Kanada and holds no grudges against him for the charges he is facing.

"This has scared both of these young people," she said about Kanada and her daughter, the alleged victim.

Garkow said she would be happy if the charges were dropped to a misdeamor status and Kanada could pay a small fine instead of serving time in jail or being registered as a sex offender.

Kanada was ready to take a plea deal on Monday that would've required him to register as a sex offender, but Garkow's statement to the court delayed the proceedings.

She said Kanada's military status was the reason the district attorney was being so difficult.

"They're going after him simply because of his status in the military," she said. "They want to make an example out of him."

But the real difference between Garkow's view of things and the District Attorney's charges stem from the state's age of consent law. Under Oregon state law, until someone is 18 years old, they are not permitted to give consent to sex.

"I know what the law is, and there are girls out there who need its protection," Garkow said. "But my daughter knows the difference from right and wrong, and she gave him consent."

Garkow argued that in Kanada's case, her daughter's maturity level should be taken into account.

But the District Attorney's office says the state's consentual sex laws are not flexible and adds that Garkow is merely stalling the legal process.

"She doesn't want this case to go to trial," said Coos County District Attorney Paul Fraiser. "She is doing everything she can to delay this in hopes that we will not proceed with charges against Mr. Kanada."

Fraiser said Garkow's hopes that Kanada's felony charges will be reduced to a misdemeanor in which he would pay a fine were unrealistic.

"He is being charged with six felonies, and we are taking those charges very seriously," Fraiser said. "You also have to consider the fact that he is not one, not two, but five years older than she was when this happened."

Fraiser is personally handling the case right now and says Garkow's claims that the D.A.'s office did not reach out to her are false.

"She is ignoring us intentionally," he said. "She feels if she does not answer the phone, then we can't move forward, and that is not the case at all."

He said though it is nice to consult victim's family about plea deals, it is not up to the victim's family on how the case is and is not prosecuted.

Kanada is charged with two counts of third-degree rape, two counts of third-degree sodomy, two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, two counts of contributing to the sexual delinquency of a minor and furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Kanada is due back in court at 8:30 a.m. on Nov. 27 where it is believed another plea deal will be offered to him. Kanada is also expected to deal with a driving under the influence charge on Tuesday that happened after he was charged with rape.