Baby Rapist Faces Life in Prison

Baby Rapist Faces Life in Prison »Play Video
James Wamsley talked to his attorney at a trial hearing, Tuesday, to determine how he would be sentenced. Wamsley pled guilty to raping a baby last spring.
KENNEWICK -- He raped a baby. Now, the punishment fits the crime.

Seventeen-year-old James Wamsley pled guilty to raping a baby last spring.

As part of the plea, Wamsley was also found guilty of an aggravating factor, including the vulnerability of the child.

Aggravating factors affect how the teen will be sentenced.

Since then, lawyers have duked it out over another aggravating factor: the injuries to the baby.

In a trial hearing Tuesday, a judge ruled the teen is guilty of that second aggravating factor, which could put him away for life.

"It's certainly shocking, the degree of the violence and the fact that it was a baby because we don't see that very often," Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Response Center (SARC) JoDee Garretson said. "And a baby, of course, is so helpless."

Wamsley admitted to raping the infant while he was babysitting the child during Memorial Day weekend.

Experts said most rape cases in children don't require surgery at all.

But this little boy was hurt so badly, he needed surgery in Spokane.

Local physicians at Kadlec Medical Center in Richland testified that they did not feel comfortable operating on the infant.

"This was more severe than I've seen in most cases," Developmental pediatrician Dr.Sara Zirkle said.

In fact, both pediatric specialists who testified estimated around 95 percent of children who are sexually abused do not show physical signs.

They said victims often don't disclose the abuse until much later.

They also said injuries to that part of the body can heal in just days.

"So babies being nonverbal, it's very unlikely that they could be abused and nobody would ever know," Garreston said.

And when babies can't speak for themselves, doctors said reports of their sexual assault are, in turn, very rare.

The Sexual Assault Response Center has limited information on babies who are abused.

SARC counselors report that nearly a quarter of children between the ages of zero and five are sexually abused, but they don't break down the numbers by age.

In nearly two decades as a pediatric specialist, Dr. Zirkle has seen only a handful of cases involving an infant.

"There probably aren't more than 15 or 20 in my career that are under the age of one," she said.

Dr. Zirkle was one of a handful of doctors who examined the little boy's medical information, and confirmed his wounds wouldn't have healed on their own.

That was enough to help the judge decide the injuries far exceeded the typical punishment for first degree rape of a child.

The ruling could put the 17-year old rapist away for life.

"I don't believe someone is a healthy, well-adjusted individual and then one day snaps and rapes a baby," Garretson said.

No local doctors were aware of the current condition of the baby.

None of the doctors who examined him were able to follow up on his condition once he was transported.

Again, the hearing was just to decide those sentencing factors.

Wamsley's actual sentencing won't be until January 8.

The teen will most definitely serve time in prison.

Prosecutors said the minimum is 10 years but with the aggravating factors included, it's very possible he could go behind bars for life.