Three days after being arrested on suspicion of sex and weapons charges, former Winston Mayor Kenneth Barrett said he was a victim of police entrapment.
Barrett visited a number of local media outlets Wednesday in an effort to tell his side of the story and talk about how he was the victim of “character assassination.” By the afternoon, he had resigned from his position as mayor.
“If you read the transcript, you will see that I was the person being corrupted,” he said. “My reputation was being corrupted by a man or a woman who sat on Facebook and chatted with me.
“I call that police entrapment,” he said.
Police arrested Barrett, 71, last Sunday after Barrett arrived at an agreed-upon location to meet a 14-year-old female for sexual contact. During the arrest, police also found Barrett to be in possession of a concealed semiautomatic handgun.
Police began investigating Barrett on March 5 after he shared and commented on the Facebook profile picture of a young girl. Barrett said the girl in the photo was “hot.”
The Facebook page was operated by a Myrtle Creek police officer that uses the profile to catch people who sexually prey on children, according to court documents.
Deputy District Attorney Ian Ross said the district attorney’s office has seen a number of cases similar to Barrett’s eventually lead to convictions and that arguing that Barrett was entrapped by police would be a tough sell.
“The bottom line is that just because a law enforcement officer affords the person to engage in, or commit the offense, that does not constitute entrapment,” Ross said.
“It has to be the person’s idea to engage in the crime and the fact that the officer opens the door, so to speak, is irrelevant because the person still has to walk through the door,” he said.
Barrett said he is an ethical person, who lives to help people of all ages and backgrounds, which is what he said he was trying to do while talking with the 14-year-old girl on Facebook.
“The supposed girl talking with me said that she was being held hostage by her mother and her aunt,” Barrett said.
Later, Barrett said he was trying to be a father figure and was just trying to help, but that the entire situation got out of hand because the girl turned out to be a police officer.
“I wasn’t going to go to her house — which doesn’t exist,” he said. “Nothing of this exists, this is a story.”
According to court documents, Barrett told the girl he wanted to take a road trip to Mars so they could “populate the red planet” by “building a new civilization in bed.”
Barrett said he often chats with people online from all over the world. Sometimes he said, the conversations can become sexual.
“It could be, or not be, because it’s all a video game (to me),” he said. “I’ve never seen any of these women, it’s just texting.”
Barrett said the conversations with the 14-year-old didn’t break any laws because while they may have discussed sex, he never had the intention to have sexual intercourse with the girl. And, he said, because he was sprayed with Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, he is unable to have sex. In the police affidavit, Barrett told the 14-year-old girl it was impossible for me to get her pregnant, but that he was still able to “give her the real experience.”
According to Oregon Revised Statutes 163.432, a person commits the crime of second-degree online sexual corruption of a child if a person over the age of 18 “knowingly uses an online communication to solicit a child to engage in sexual contact or sexually explicit conduct,” and agrees to physically meet with the child.
Barrett said he initially began talking with the girl online, and continued to talk with her even after she disclosed that she was a minor, to protect her from being assaulted by pedophiles.
“If I, or someone else, doesn’t get concerned about something like this, who is?” he said. “All these cops are doing all this stuff supposedly to save young ladies from being assaulted by pedophiles. They aren’t.
“I happen to know enough about psychology that women without fathers tend to become promiscuous, which she is,” he said.
Barrett insisted that the entire situation was an attempt to ruin his reputation and to get him removed from office. He claimed that a committee meets in Winston that has been trying to find a way to get him kicked out within 190 days of him taking office in January.
He said the weapons violation was proof that people were attempting to remove him.
Barrett claims that he applied for, and was approved for a concealed carry permit but that the permit itself was still at the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. Barrett added that his gun wasn’t concealed, it was sitting in plain view in its holster.
The News-Review attempted to verify whether Barrett’s claims about his concealed handgun license were true, but the sheriff’s office said it was unable to release that information due to state law.
On Wednesday, the city of Winston announced that Barrett had resigned because of the recent allegations.
During Barrett’s interview with The News-Review, he also talked about his experience at the Douglas County Jail, saying that he was not provided with a pillow, that the lights were never turned off and that he was not assisted when he asked for help in obtaining a phone number.
“I got no help from anyone to get a phone number, which I thought was my right — to have one phone call to call my attorney,” Barrett said. “That’s the law, I believe.”
According to Lt. Mike Root, who supervises the Douglas County Jail, pillows are never provided to inmates. Instead, they are built into the provided mattresses. Root said the lights in the jail are never turned off as a protective measure for deputies who patrol the jail and perform hourly checks on all inmates. The lights are dimmed at night, Root said.
As for the phone call issue Barrett expressed, Root said it simply wasn’t true.
“He did get cooperation because I’m the one who got the numbers for him,” Root said.
Root said after Barrett complained, Root went to the receptionist, obtained a copy of Barrett’s visitors list, which included the phone numbers of two individuals who knew Barrett, and gave a copy to Barrett.
“He was fine with that,” Root said. “He thanked me and then was able to make phone calls.”