Former Aloha foster parent, already imprisoned for sex crimes, abused girls 'pretty constantly,' detective says
A Washington County sheriff's detective says a former Aloha foster parent, already imprisoned for sex crimes and facing new accusations, sexually abused young girls "pretty constantly" during the course of 13 years.
James Coonrod, 63, along with his wife, operated a foster home between 1994 and 2009 at their residence in the 17000 block of Southwest Hurrell Lane near Beaverton, said sheriff's Detective Chuck Anderson, the lead investigator on the case. Coonrod is now accused of abusing four girls, when they were 4 to 8 years old, between 1994 and 2007, according to the sheriff's office.
"He had been active for a long time," Anderson said.
Nearly 50 children stayed at the couple's foster home. Because of the volume of children who had lived at the location, Anderson is concerned Coonrod could have more victims. Coonrod, Anderson said, was also active in church groups with the Aloha Church of God.
"He had access to a whole lot of kids," Anderson said.
Tim Irwin, pastor of Aloha Church of God since 2008, said Coonrod occasionally worshiped at the church and, to his knowledge, was not involved in any ministries or groups involving children. For a time, Coonrod was involved in the church's choir, which does not include children, Irwin said.
Coonrod, who is serving a five-year sentence at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution after pleading guilty to attempted sexual abuse in 2011, faces new charges of sexually abusing the four girls at the foster home, authorities say. All but one of the victims, according to the sheriff's office, were living in the home as foster children.
A Washington County grand jury indicted him on seven Measure 11 crimes: three counts of first-degree rape, three counts of first-degree sexual abuse and one count of first-degree unlawful sexual penetration. He was transferred from prison to the Washington County Jail and arraigned on the charges in Washington County Circuit Court last week.
In 2009, the certification for the Coonrods' foster home was terminated, said Gene Evans, spokesman for the state's Department of Human Services. The criminal investigation that ultimately sent Coonrod to prison, Evans said, began after the home was shut down.
Anderson said the closure of the home was unrelated to the first sex abuse accusations, which were reported a year later.
Before the Coonrods' certification was revoked, the state had concerns about "their failure to meet and maintain appropriate state standards for an approved foster home," Evans wrote in an email. The state child welfare office in Washington County conducted a review of the home, Evans said, but he wouldn't provide details about the findings, citing state and federal privacy laws regarding children.
Complaints were made about the home prior to 2009, Anderson said, but he wouldn't disclose information about them, also citing privacy laws.
Coonrod was first arrested on sex abuse charges in October 2010, said Sgt. Bob Ray, a sheriff's office spokesman. At the time, investigators believed the abuse, which involved a foster child, was an isolated incident, Ray said, and the sheriff's office did not release information about the arrest. Coonrod in February 2011 pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted first-degree sexual abuse, according to court records, and received his five-year sentence.
Last August, Anderson said, another victim reported that Coonrod sexually abused her. Anderson said in October he interviewed Coonrod at the prison, where he denied abusing the girl, but admitted to abusing two others, who hadn't reported the crimes.
During the interview, Coonrod described himself as a pedophile, saying he targeted children, ages 4 to 8, Anderson said. All of the victims are female.
Coonrod abused the girls in multiple ways, including forcing them to perform sexual acts on him, Anderson said. The majority of the abuse, Anderson said, occurred in the children's rooms.
One of the victims lived with Coonrod for more than 15 years, Anderson said, and another for about 13. The other victims lived there between one and three years.
Anderson said the sheriff's office has been working with the state's Department of Human Services on the case.
Evans, the state human services spokesman, said in order to become a foster parent in Oregon, people must undergo a criminal background check. State officials also complete a home study, during which a series of in-depth interviews are conducted with the prospective foster parents, he said.
State law requires caseworkers to visit children in foster care every 30 days, Evans said. During the meetings, caseworkers, he said, generally talk to the children away from their foster parents, a process that Evans said could make reporting abuse easier for the children. Many children, he said, don't disclose abuse until much later.
Citing 2010 statistics, Evans said 84 foster children out of a total of about 13,000 in the state reported abuse.
"The numbers don't really matter," he said. "Any one of those is unacceptable."