One Last ‘Technicality’ on the Sentencing of Former Pastor


It’s been more than a week since Robbin Leeroy Harper, 61, former pastor of the Church in South Colby, was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison for sexual abuse of more than 10 girls and women.

There’s one thing that I didn’t get to explain in the print edition that is noteworthy: Harper could have received a de facto life sentence. But now, if he lives to the ripe old age of about 87, he’ll be a free man.

And just how could he have received more time?

Kitsap County Prosecutors had expressed interest in this case for what’s called a determinant plus sentence.

In a nutshell, that sentence mandates a kind of parole board to evaluate an offender who has committed a host of sexually motivated crimes upon their potential release to the community.

That parole board has the authority to tell the offender they’re still a danger to the community, and thus cannot be released for up to 2 more years. However, when those 2 years are up, the process repeats itself — and thus the offender could be incarcerated indefinitely.

That fate could have awaited Harper. But his attorney, Thomas Weaver, submitted a brief prior to sentencing that addressed this issue. In it, he argued that Harper wasn’t eligible for “determinant plus,” because Harper’s felony charges occurred before Sept. 1, 2001 — and the statute for said sentencing decrees that the crime must have occurred after that date.

Prosecutors didn’t debate the motion. And so, once he is finished serving his time, he’ll avoid the determinant plus-parole board (officially known as the indeterminant sentence review board).

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