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  Northwest
'Sorry' won't do, judge tells molester

Defendant sentenced for sexual abuse of several teenage boys

Saturday, February 19, 2000

By ELAINE PORTERFIELD Mail Author
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

After hearing convicted child molester Dean Suess speak yesterday of his humiliation and remorse, King County Superior Court Judge Norma Huggins paused for just a moment.

"Sorry" doesn't cut it, the judge then said.

Photo  
Former Boy Scout volunteer Dean Suess, 47, is led into Superior Court, where he was sentenced on several counts of child molestation.
Loren Callahan/P-I
 
"Suffice it to say there are some things in life that are done that can never be undone," Huggins told the trembling defendant.

If Suess had been truly sorry, he wouldn't have waited to confess until he was arrested, the judge said, adding, "I do not give you credit for taking responsibility."

With that, Huggins sentenced Suess, 47, to almost 10 years in prison for three counts of second-degree child molestation and four counts of third-degree child molestation. The sentence, at the high end of the standard range, was recommended by prosecutors after Suess pleaded guilty Jan. 14.

Prosecutors reduced two counts of second-degree child rape to second-degree child molestation in exchange for the pleas.

Suess, a Boy Scout volunteer, was the minister of music at a Lutheran church in Bothell at the time of his arrest, and held a doctorate in liturgy. He sported "Dr. Suess" license plates on his car.

But police and prosecutors said he had a dangerous side, one that went undiscovered until last year: He had sexually abused several boys, when they were 12 to 15 years old, dating back to 1992.

Last fall, a 22-year-old man accused Suess of raping him years earlier, making the disclosure while applying to be a foster parent. Police couldn't investigate the case, because the statute of limitations had expired on the alleged crimes.

But the man told police he knew of three others who had been abused by Suess. One man, now 19, told police he was molested by Suess when he was 12 and 13.

A 16-year-old boy said he was molested by Suess when he was 14 and 15. Another 19-year-old man told authorities he was 14 and 15 when Suess molested him.

Authorities said Suess is related to two of the victims and did not befriend them through the Bothell church or Boy Scouts.

The father of two of the victims told Huggins yesterday that the news his sons had been molested by Suess, a man he knew and trusted, shook his world to the core.

"Justice demands a price for that misconduct," he said. "What a violation of trust. . . . Only Dean alone had the power to stop his vicious behavior."

His 19-year-old son asked the court to impose the maximum sentence. He then turned to his abuser.

"Dean, what you did will haunt me for the rest of my life," he said.

Suess was tearful.

"I've hurt people in unimaginable ways," he said. "I've sacrificed their well-being and self-esteem."


P-I reporter Elaine Porterfield can be reached at 206-467-5942 or elaineporterfield@seattle-pi.com

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