Oak Harbor church youth director gets the max for molesting boys
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
August 17, 2012 · Updated 2:58 PM
A former youth director at an Oak Harbor church who was involved in many other youth-related programs and schools was sentenced to prison for the maximum term for molesting two boys.
Ronald Asplund’s sentencing hearing was moved forward a couple of weeks to save the city of Oak Harbor medical costs. He suffers from lung cancer and is wearing a device that pumps chemotherapy drugs in his body. While he’s been in jail since May, it’s cost the city about $1,000 a day.
Asplund told a Department of Corrections investigator that a doctor gave him one to three years to live.
At an Aug. 10 sentencing hearing, Island County Superior Court Judge Alan Hancock followed the recommendation from the prosecution and the Department of Corrections and handed him the maximum indeterminate sentence of 11 years and four months to life in prison. That means a prison board will decide whether to release him after he reserved the minimum sentence.
Asplund pleaded guilty to two counts of child rape in the second degree for assaulting the two children when they were 12 and 13 years ago.
In an interview with the Department of Correction, Asplund expressed remorse, but also blamed the boys for instigating the sexual assaults.
Asplund has been around children in the community, often in a position of trust, for years.
Asplund volunteered as a middle school ministry coordinator at the Oak Harbor Lutheran Church, which was how he met one of the boys. He molested the boy at a “lock-in” event at the church, according to the police report.
In addition, Asplund taught at a private, now-defunct Christian school in Langley from 2001 to 2003. He worked as a substitute teacher at Oak Harbor schools for a limited number of times in 2000 and 2005.
Asplund volunteered as a mentor through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Island County. He worked with children through the Navy’s former SAFE program, which offered before- and after-school daycare at Oak Harbor elementary schools.
In an interview with the Department of Corrections official, Asplund admitted that he committed a sex act in the presence of a middle-school boy he met through the SAFE program.
“Mr. Asplund was a youth director at a local church and a self-proclaimed ‘mentor’ to the young victims. As such, he was in a position of trust, and obviously violated that trust on numerous occasions over a prolonged period of time,” Community Corrections Officer Rob Diekman wrote in the pre-sentence investigation.
“At least one of the sexual assaults occurred inside the church; a place where people should feel totally safe and secure. Mr. Asplund provided gifts to the victims including video games and cell phones. It appears he selected victims who did not have a father figure in their lives. His behaviors, in my opinion, were grooming and predatory in nature.”
Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.