Richland attorney Jerry Davis was living two lives. That much, Benton County prosecutors and his defense attorney agree on.
He was a respected lawyer and review judge who volunteered his skills to the less fortunate.
But privately, he arranged for the molestation of a young child and collected child pornography.
On Friday, the suspended attorney and convicted child abuser agreed in a rambling, tearful 15-minute statement in a Kennewick courtroom that he didn’t understand what was wrong, but was willing to work on fixing it.
“It doesn’t make sense even to me,” he said. “When I started with, ‘I’m sorry for this,’ that’s too light.”
After listening to Davis, Judge Bruce Spanner said he didn’t wish the attorney ill will but that two children in the case will suffer a lifetime of stress, distrust and self-esteem struggles.
“I don’t think 89 months is long enough,” Spanner said. “I hope they learn to forgive.”
He sentenced Davis to a minimum of seven years and five months in prison on one count of first-degree child molestation.
When Davis finishes serving the minimum, his case will be reviewed by a state Department of Corrections board to decide if he can be released.
Davis is already serving a year and two months after he was caught with child pornography on his computer in Olympia. The Thurston County sentence will be served at the same time as his Benton County sentence.
Davis worked for a Richland family law firm and as a review judge for the state Department of Social and Health Services.
He oversaw hearings for administrative law cases involving Child Protective Services, Adult Protective Services and other social services agencies that serve vulnerable clients. He was fired from that job in March 2018.
The Washington State Bar Association lists his law license as suspended in January 2019.
Position of trust
Police began investigating Davis after he mentioned on a dating app that he drugged children with NyQuil before raping them, according to court records.
Investigators searched his Olympia home and discovered child pornography on the computer.
On Friday, Deputy Prosecutor Laurel Holland requested the top end of the state sentencing range, 89 months, for Davis.
She said the investigation showed he has “a very real attraction to children.”
“He put his sexual desires before his responsibilities … and as a responsible adult and as a responsible person,” she said.
His attorney Megan Whitmire asked for a lower prison term. The sentencing range started at 67 months.
“I’m very fond of Mr. Davis. I can’t reconcile these two sides any better than he can,” Whitmire said. “He is someone who still has a lot to offer this community.”
“He … sought therapy after the initial conviction,” she said. “He’s very anxious to get to the bottom of this. He knows that he has a long way to go.”
A supporter, attorney Brant L. Stevens, drove from Spokane to speak at Davis’ sentencing.
He and Davis worked side by side serving people needing help and knew each other for 20 years. The attorney helped cancer patients create living wills and provided free advice for indigent people.
Stevens asked Spanner for leniency for Davis, saying seven years is a long time, and he would be 61 before he gets a chance to be free.
“He would be more than welcome to come and work in my office again,” he said.
Davis spent 15 minutes speaking at the sentencing, which was occasionally broken by tears as he said he didn’t understand what was wrong with him. He claimed his second life was only a small part of the things he did.
The court was sent other letters of support for him.
But Holland argued they showed he, in fact, lived two separate lives.
“The people that wrote those letters on his behalf very clearly have no idea of the level and the nature of the conduct that the defendant was engaging in,” she said.