A 59-year-old Bend woman received three years in prison for sexually abusing three of her grandchildren.

Karen Sue Adams was sentenced at a short, quiet hearing Thursday in Deschutes County Circuit Court, after pleading no contest to four counts of attempting to commit a Class A felony.

The abuse took place between Dec. 22 and Jan. 5 when Adams provided care for the children while their mother was away. Their mother, after being told of the abuse by one of her children, contacted police.

Adams admitted to police to touching the children’s genitals and buttocks, although she denied that it was sexual in nature.

“There was an immediate admissions by Ms. Adams that ‘I’m going to go to jail for a long, long time,’” prosecutor Kelly Monaghan told the court.

The children were interviewed at the KIDS Center in Bend.

“All three victims made disclosures consistent with the corroborating information in the investigation,” Monaghan said.

The fact Adams had a drug and alcohol problem, had no prior criminal record and may be afflicted by a serious mental illness, affected the plea negotiations, Monaghan said.

Adams was originally charged with four counts of first-degree sexual abuse, which carries a maximum of five years.

The only people present at the hearing were an aunt, one of the children’s parents, a victim advocate and a sheriff’s deputy.

The aunt told the court she and her sister had been removed from their mother by authorities when they were 2 and 6 due to neglect. They spent 10 years in foster homes before being adopted.

Later, after having children of their own, the sisters reluctantly reconnected with “Karen” and moved her from California to Bend, the aunt said.

“We gave her an opportunity to be a part of our lives, against my better judgment,” the woman said. “And this is what she did with the opportunity to be a part of our lives. She went on to victimize the next generation of our family.”

Adams declined an opportunity to address the court.

Senior Judge A. Michael Alder was last to speak.

“I hope you understand the gravity of this conduct and the harm to these children,” he said. “This is a pretty horrible situation, and I hope you feel bad about it. You probably do.”

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