Couple gets more than 40 years for child sex abuse

A Lane County couple was sentenced Tuesday to prison terms of more than 40 years apiece for the sexual abuse of three minors, most of which occurred in Deschutes County.

Online court records describe a level of abuse not often seen in Central Oregon.

“It was the most horrific child sex abuse case I have ever seen in Deschutes County,” Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel said Wednesday.

Doreen and Gregory Cater were charged with a combined 204 felonies in Lane and Deschutes counties, including multiple counts of rape and sodomy. They each had two misdemeanors as well.

Plea agreements reduced their charges — but they were not very forgiving.

Gregory Cater, 44, pleaded guilty to 78 charges stemming from the sexual abuse of two children, ages 9 and 12. One was a boy and one was a girl. He was sentenced to almost 46 years in prison.

Doreen Cater, 45, was convicted of 94 counts for abuse of the two children, as well as abuse of a third child who was 14, according to a Deschutes County District Attorney’s Office news release. She was sentenced to nearly 42 years in prison.

Both of them will be in their late 80s when released.

The abuse occurred about four times per week from 2011 to 2014, and was often videotaped. It was uncovered by Florence Police Detective Brandon Ott after the couple moved from south Deschutes County to Lane County. Ott got in touch with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office, where detectives Ron Brown and Tom Nelson found the Caters still rented a storage unit in Deschutes County.

When searching it, they found a “trove” of videos showing the sexual abuse, Hummel said. That made the case “rock-solid,” he said.

“There is no reason to go light on these people,” Hummel said.

The couple was booked into the Deschutes County jail Aug. 23. They declined to enter pleas in Deschutes County, opting instead to have the Lane and Deschutes cases merged. At a settlement conference Friday in Lane County, they accepted a plea deal. The couple pleaded guilty and received their sentences Tuesday.

Hummel said due to the amount of evidence in the case, his office only participated in plea negotiations so the victims would not have to testify at trial. Without a plea deal, the couple could have faced longer prison sentences.

“We can give some hope that they will see a year of daylight before they pass this earth,” Hummel said. “We can dangle something in front of them so that the kids can avoid having to testify.”

Attorneys for both Gregory and Doreen Cater did not return a request for comment on the case.

Hummel said despite Doreen Cater being charged with more crimes, and an additional victim, Gregory Cater appeared to be slightly more of the ringleader, and therefore got a slightly longer sentence.

Because the crimes fell under Measure 11, Oregon’s mandatory-minimum sentencing law for violent crimes, the couple will not be eligible for early release based on good behavior or participation in prison programs.