Volume 7 | April, 2022
Welcome to the spring 2022 edition of the Washington County District Attorney’s Office newsletter. 
It’s nice to welcome longer days, warmer weather, and (hopefully) a return to normal life as pandemic restrictions subside. As always, we remain busy. This newsletter will give you a quick overview of what we’ve been up to!

April is an important month as it includes many significant awareness events—Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and National Crime Victims' Rights Week. You can read about the various events scheduled throughout the month. We hope to see you at one or more of these events!
As we mark these important commemorations, we are very concerned about crime in our community. While there are many factors at play, key challenges include the ongoing drug addiction epidemic, the need to expand public safety resources including jail capacity, and increased criminal activity coming into our community from Portland. As you can read in this newsletter, public opinion polling shows strong community support for fully funding Washington County public safety resources.
Please take some time to read through this newsletter and I wish you and your family a safe and healthy spring!
-District Attorney Kevin Barton
Latest News
Second Annual Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair a Success
The Washington County District Attorney's Office recently celebrated the success of the Second Annual Oregon Diversity Legal Job Fair.

Created by DA Barton and a steering committee made up of legal experts from across Oregon, the mission of the job fair is to bring together Oregon's legal community to recruit and retain diverse legal professionals who will reflect the identity and values of the people and clients they serve.

This year, our 34 participating employers interacted with the more than 100 career seekers who registered for the fair. These candidates came from all over the U.S. and several joined from outside the country. In all, booth representatives completed 253 interviews with various candidates!

We also offered new programming this year, a roundtable discussion. Our panelists gave career advice and offered their expertise to career seekers. You can watch the full presentation here. Learn more about the job fair at www.ODLJF.org.
DA's Office Helps Launch Mental Health Diversion Pilot Program

HILLSBORO, Ore.- The Washington County District Attorney’s Office, in partnership with various community and law enforcement partners, is excited to announce the launch of the Washington County Mental Health Diversion Pilot Program (MHDPP).

This new specialty court program will work in conjunction with Washington County’s Mental Health Court. It is intended for non-violent offenders who are charged with a qualifying misdemeanor crime where mental illness is a significant factor in their criminal behavior. This new program is possible because of a change in the law through SB 218 (2021) that increases the ability to offer this type of specialty court program.

Participants in the program will be supervised by the Washington County Community Corrections Department. They will be ordered to comply with all conditions of probation including enrollment in appropriate mental health treatment. Once a participant successfully completes the program, they are eligible to ask a judge to dismiss their misdemeanor charges. 

“I am excited to launch this new specialty program after many years of behind-the-scenes work,” said District Attorney Kevin Barton. “We had to go to Salem to get the law changed, and now we can offer this important resource to community members with mental health needs.”

Judge Rebecca Guptill will preside over this program. The MHPDD would not have been possible without the support of the Washington County Circuit Court, community corrections, sheriff’s office, Washington County Adult and Mental Health Services, various mental health specialists, the defense bar, and this office. More information on the program, including details on how to apply, can be found here.

Read Pamplin Media's coverage of the new court here.
New Survey Shows Oregonians Are Concerned About Increases in Crime
How do Oregonians feel about public safety? A recent survey commissioned by the Oregon District Attorneys Association found that people are very troubled. Here is a sample of some of the results:

  • 65% say safety and crime are more important to them today than two years ago
  • 73% support hiring more police
  • 62% support hiring more prosecutors
  • 68% support mandatory minimum sentences for violent criminals
  • 82% support ensuring victims have notice and input before criminals are released

“People are increasingly concerned about the rise in crime, especially as it spreads into Washington County from Portland," Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton said of the survey results. "Oregon is facing a growing public safety crisis and protecting our community and crime victims needs to be a priority.”

You can read more about this survey in our full press release.
Honoring Important Awareness Dates
April Holds Many Awareness Events

This April, the Washington County District Attorney's Office is joining our community and law enforcement partners to honor Child Abuse Prevention Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

We’ve worked with our colleagues to develop a number of events throughout the month to show support for crime victims and to assure them that help is available. Please review our calendar to see all the events taking place during April. You can also visit our website for more information on how to get involved.
Watch the video above to see our Pinwheels for Prevention garden from 2021.
National Human Trafficking Awareness Day

January 11th was National Human Trafficking Awareness Day. We are working closely with community and law enforcement partners to address this serious issue. One of these partners, Safety Compass of Oregon, had more than 400 service encounters with survivors in a 12-month period.

In 2018, our office helped launch the Washington County Human Trafficking Task Force to more effectively investigate and prosecute these cases. Our attorneys work closely with our partners to hold abusers accountable and to support victims.

We need your help. Please watch for the following signs of abuse and call law enforcement if you suspect someone is being trafficked. Together we can help these victims get the hope and justice they deserve.

  • Secret social media accounts or multiple cell phones
  • Person is submissive or fearful
  • Person has new/unusual relationship or crowd
  • Has limited contact with friends or relatives, or has run away from home
  • Indications of physical abuse including bruising and unexplained injuries
Video Spotlight
DA Barton Speaks with KGW-TV About Child Abuse Concerns
We'd like to thank KGW for speaking with District Attorney Kevin Barton about child abuse concerns. Click here to view the video and to learn more about how our office is working to protect children from abuse and neglect.
DA Barton Weighs in on Impacts of Measure 110
In 2020, voters approved ballot measure 110, titled the “Drug Treatment and Recovery Act.” This new law promised to increase drug treatment as it decriminalized possession of most street drugs like meth and heroin.

However, the 2021 statewide data shows that under this law, when people receive their violation citation for drug possession, only about 55% of them showed up in court and only about 3% (55 people) completed an addiction assessment/screening. As overdose deaths are increasing statewide, this issue needs urgent attention.

DA Barton recently spoke with FOX 12 about the issue. Watch the segment here.
Courthouse News
DA's Office Launches New Effort to Combat Bias Crimes
We have an exciting update to share.

After our office was awarded $300,000 in competitive grant funding, we have officially launched our new Bias Crime Multidisciplinary Team (MDT). The MDT consists of members from law enforcement agencies and community partner organizations. The team will meet regularly to discuss and implement strategies to combat bias and hate crime, including trainings, education, and outreach events.

This funding also supports victim advocate positions that serve bias crimes victims. Our victim advocates work closely with a special team of prosecutors who are trained for this type of caseload. This group (pictured here) is dedicated to protecting victims and holding offenders accountable.

To learn more about this effort, visit our website.
Washington County Jury Finds Michael Ross Guilty of Murder
HILLSBORO, Ore.- On March 15, 2022, a Washington County jury convicted Michael Stuart Ross of second-degree murder, attempted first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of unlawful use of a weapon, and two counts of solicitation to commit first-degree murder. Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeff Lesowski and Deputy District Attorney David Pitcher prosecuted the case against the defendant before Judge Ted Sims. 

On May 10, 2018, Mr. Ross murdered his 73-year-old mother inside the Tualatin, Oregon home they shared, by stabbing her and bludgeoning her with a steel pipe. He then violently attacked his adult brother with the pipe. Fortunately, the defendant’s brother escaped and ran to a neighbor’s house where they called 9-1-1. 

Tualatin police and Sheriff’s deputies responded to the scene. Officers ordered Mr. Ross to exit the home which he did without incident. They discovered the victim’s body and arrested the defendant.

While in custody at the Washington County Jail, the defendant befriended another inmate and confessed to killing his mother. He then offered to pay the inmate tens of thousands of dollars if he murdered the defendant’s two brothers once he was released on bail. The defendant anticipated a large inheritance from his mother’s estate and wished to prevent their testimony against him. The inmate alerted authorities and fully cooperated with the investigation.

The Washington County District Attorney’s Office wishes to acknowledge the work of the Tualatin Police Department including Detective Kevin Winfield, the Washington County Major Crimes Team, and the Oregon State Police for their work on this case.
DA's Child Support Division Receives Top Honors
Number one in the state!

We generally don't like to brag, but we are pleased to report that our child support division has been rated the top-collecting division in all of Oregon!

Newly-released numbers show we collected more than $24 million in child support owed. That money helps ensure Washington County children have the support and resources they need to grow up in a safe and stable environment. 

We also strive to be good stewards of taxpayer funding. We were one of only three counties statewide to hit the benchmarks needed to qualify for 100% of available federal matching funds, which saves local county resources.

You can read more about our work to support children here.
In the Community
DA's Office Continues Community Outreach

DA Barton is dedicated to community outreach and engagement. Over the past several months, he has spoken both virtually and in person with Rotary clubs, Community Participation Organizations, and Neighborhood Advisory Committees.

Our office always appreciates the chance to connect with the community we serve. Please contact us if you'd like to request a presentation from our office.
Food Drive to Support Afghan Refugees
Nearly 2,000 pounds of food!

Washington County employees are incredibly generous, and they proved it once again when they collected nearly one ton of food to be donated to Afghan refugees resettling in Oregon.

In partnership with the Muslim Educational Trust in Tigard, members of the DA's office, Washington County Sheriff's Office, Community Corrections and county staff collected food to support those coming from Afghanistan to Oregon.

Please watch our video below to learn more about this effort and how you can help.
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