PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Albany man serving a life sentence without parole following his third felony sex offense conviction for grabbing and groping a woman in a grocery store bathroom will be re-sentenced for a lesser offense, a state appeals court ruled Thursday.
The Oregon Court of Appeals threw out Brandon Beckner’s conviction for first-degree sexual abuse, finding there wasn’t sufficient evidence to prove Beckner subjected the woman to sexual abuse through physical force or a threat, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
The court sent the case back to the Linn County Circuit Court with direction to find Beckner guilty of third-degree sexual abuse, a misdemeanor, and ordered he be sentenced again.
Beckner, hiding in a women’s restroom at Two Rivers Market in Albany on June 2, 2015, emerged, stood behind a woman and put his fingers to his lips, which she testified made her feel threatened and suggested that she either “stay quiet’’ or he’d harm her.
But the appeals court found that Beckner’s gesture didn’t rise to “forcible compulsion,’’ which requires an offender to say or do something that places a victim in fear that she will be killed, physically injured or kidnapped unless she submits to sexual contact.
Beckner grabbed the woman’s hips then grabbed her breasts before she ran out, according to court records.
To prove sexual contact was first-degree sexual abuse, the state also had to prove Beckner compelled his victim to submit to the unwanted sexual contact, the court noted.
“Here, the evidence was insufficient to establish that the victim felt compelled to submit to the grabbing of her breasts because defendant grabbed her hips,” Aoyagi wrote.
Beckner, now 33, was sentenced in 2017 to life in prison without the possibility of parole because his latest conviction marked his third felony sex offense.
Beckner is being held at Snake River Correctional Institution.