La Grande man sentenced after exposing his genitals to 3-year-old, new senate bill aims to address legal loopholes

May 8—LA GRANDE — A La Grande arrested after exposing his genitals to a 3-year-old in October 2022 has been convicted on sex crimes, and indirectly prompted a bill to address legal loopholes existing under Oregon law.

Union County Circuit Judge Thomas Powers in April found Daniel Breshears, 62, guilty of first-degree attempted sexual abuse, endangering the welfare of a minor and public indecency. Powers decided the case after Breshears waived his right to a jury trial, according to court records. District Attorney Kelsie McDaniel prosecuted the case. La Grande attorney J. Logan Joseph represented Breshears.

The La Grande Police Department arrested Breshears on Oct. 31, 2022. Law enforcement responded to Blue Mountain Coin-op Laundry, 712 20th St., after receiving a report that a man exposed his genitals to a child, court documents state. The mother's child told law enforcement her son frantically came up to her saying a man had approached him, exposed himself and acted like he was going to urinate on him.

Police made the arrest after reviewing security camera footage from the laundromat, according to court documents. A green pickup registered to Breshears pulled into the parking lot and a man wearing a Grande Ronde Fitness Club hat walked into the business. Law enforcement observed the man shaking and pulling on his genitals while walking towards the child. He got within 2 feet of the child's face before leaving and walking down the street.

Powers sentenced Breshears to two years, four months with the Oregon Department of Corrections for first-degree attempted sexual abuse, according to court documents. Consecutive to this sentence, Breshears will serve 180 days in Union County Jail for endangering the welfare of a minor. The judge also sentenced Breshears to 180 days in county jail for public indecency, which will be concurrent with the other sentences. Breshears will receive credit for time served.

Following his release from prison, Breshears will serve three years of post-prison supervision. He will be required to register as a sex offender and attend sex offender treatment. The court has ordered Breshears to have no contact with minors and prohibited him from going to places where minors gather. The court also specifically ordered Breshears to have no contact with the victim.

At the time of his arrest in 2022, Breshears was a registered sex offender and out on post-prison supervision. In 2014, he pleaded guilty in Union County to using a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct, a felony, and endangering the welfare of a minor, according to court records. At that time Breshears was sentenced to five years, 10 months in prison and three years of post-prison supervision. He also received a sentence of 30 days in jail for the second count.

Senate Bill 957

McDaniel said while prosecuting this case she recognized two issues with the existing Oregon law for public indecency and luring. She brought these to the attention of Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, who went on to champion Senate Bill 957 to address the loopholes.

"These are important changes that will provide critical protection for children in Oregon," he said.

Public indecency is normally a misdemeanor in Oregon. However, it becomes a felony if the person has previously been convicted for rape, sodomy, unlawful sexual penetration or sex abuse. Under the law now, a previous child pornography conviction does not increase public indecency to a felony charge.

"This means that currently, a person could have a felony conviction for using a child in display of sexually explicit conduct, potentially having gone to prison for such an offense, and if they then are masturbating in public, they could only be charged with a misdemeanor," McDaniel explained during her public testimony to the Senate Committee on Judiciary.

The second issue McDaniel recognized is in relation to luring.

Luring is basically criminal grooming, McDaniel said, where a person desensitizes a child to sexual behaviors by providing visual representations, explicit verbal descriptions or narrative accounts of sexual conduct. However, performing the conduct itself is not considered luring under the law.

"If an adult masturbates while approaching a small child in a public place — say a grocery store or a bowling alley, that action is not considered luring under the current language of the statute unless the adult also describes the masturbation to the child," the district attorney said in her statement. "Or sends the child a text message describing it. Or shows the child a video of the same conduct. I use these examples to show you the glaring loophole in the current statute. Masturbating in front of a child — the actual conduct — should be a crime."

SB 957 would update the language of the law to close these loopholes. The bill has gained bipartisan support, and the Oregon Senate on April 17 passed it a unanimously.

"When it comes to the protection of our children it is not a partisan issue, it should not be a partisan issue, and we had Republicans and Democrats coming together to work on this bill," Senate Republican leader Sen. Tim Knopp, Bend, said.

The House is set to hear the bill May 10.

Isabella Crowley is a reporter for The Observer. Contact her at 541-624-6014 or icrowley@lagrandeobserver.com.