A former Redmond youth lacrosse coach will serve prison time for sexual relationships he had with teen girls under his authority.

Dakota Wayne Harless, 24, was in Deschutes County Circuit Court on Monday to hear his fate after agreeing to plead guilty to three child sex charges and no contest to another.

On Monday, Judge Randy Miller sentenced Harless to 18 months in prison followed by five years of post-prison supervision. He was given credit for the three months he served in Deschutes County jail following his arrest, which occurred in March 2016 after Redmond Police were tipped off.

“I regret everything I’ve done every moment since I got arrested,” Harless told the judge. “All I can do is show that I am a good person. I’ve made tremendous change in areas that every young man should know about. I sincerely regret what I did.”

Harless’ original indictment contained 23 counts, all stemming from his time as an assistant coach with Redmond Lacrosse, including rape, sodomy and online sexual corruption of a child. In the end, he was convicted on three counts of second-degree sexual abuse and one count of third-degree sodomy.

There were four victims in the case, each identified only by her initials. They ranged in age from 14 to 16.

Harless has been on house arrest for most of the past year, leaving home only to work his job at a local gas station. He wore a white button-down shirt and red tie to the hearing. He was ordered to surrender his wristwatch before being led away by a bailiff.

The prison term Miller ordered was considerably less than what’s allowed under Oregon law, and three years less than the district attorney’s office requested.

Miller cited several mitigating factors in arriving at his decision. The relationships Harless engaged in were not “forceful,” according to the judge. Harless’ attorney, Casey Baxter, said that had the victims been over 18, the relationships would be described as “consensual.” One of the relationships began when Harless was 17 and the victim was 14. It became illegal after Harless turned 18, Baxter said.

Miller also cited the “persuasive” testimony of Fred Saporito, Harless’ clinical therapist. Saporito attended the hearing to address the judge. He said he was moved to testify on Harless’ behalf because of the growth he’d experienced.

“We can save this man, Your Honor,” he said.

Saporito said this story begins in Harless’ childhood, when his abusive father shot his mother. He’s lacked male role models all of his life, and through his relationship with his mother, he’s developed a need to “fix” people, Saporito told the judge.

“If he goes to prison, he will return to criminality, no doubt,” he said. “He’s still emotionally immature. I think any prison time will result in a weakened ego structure.”

Upon release, he’ll have to register as a sex offender.

Harless’ mother briefly addressed the judge to say she wouldn’t have been able to afford rent and bills this past year without his financial support.

She was overcome with emotion as he was led away by a sheriff’s deputy to begin his incarceration, saying “no” repeatedly, and “I love you.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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