Verdict expected today on sex abuse

A Jackson County jury is expected to decide today whether an Ashland actor is guilty of a Measure 11 sex abuse crime in which he allegedly kissed and nuzzled a 10-year-old girl during a party at his home.

The last day of testimony in his trial included bedroom reenactments and ended with a conflicting laundry list of affirmations for the defendant's character as well as allegations he had a pattern of making advances toward young girls.

Sunshine Sweetwater Bucy, 38, faces a single charge of first-degree sex abuse for inappropriate and illegal contact with a 10-year-old girl. The alleged acts happened during a party at his Faith Street apartment complex on July 31, 2010. A guilty verdict would send Bucy to prison for six years. A Jackson County jury continues its deliberations today.

"She had the courage to come in here and talk about what happened. Have the courage to believe her," said Jackson County Deputy District Attorney David Orr late Thursday afternoon.

Orr was asking the jury to believe the child when she told her mother, and the jurors, that Bucy had kissed her on the lips, nuzzled her neck, touched her upper thigh and tried to unzip her sweatshirt on that summer's night in an upstairs bedroom at Bucy's apartment.

Bucy's defense attorney, Peter Carini, called the girl, whom he repeatedly characterized as precocious and attention-starved, to the stand. Carini had Bucy's bed set up in the courtroom. He asked the girl to stand next to the bed and direct Carini into the position Bucy was in during the alleged abuse in an effort to discredit her.

"She was visibly shaking," said Ashland police Detective Carrie Hull. "She was holding a little doll to her chest the whole time."

Carini also had the girl's 6-year-old brother demonstrate what he'd seen that night. And Carini repeatedly said during trial and in closing that the child's mother was unbalanced, delusional and vindictive.

"The world this child lives in is the world created by her mother," Carini said.

On Thursday afternoon, Carini called Southern Oregon University theater professors Maggie McClellan and Deborah Rosenberg, along with Camelot Theatre Artistic Director Livia Genise, as character witnesses for his client. All three women said they'd known Bucy for a few years. They described him as ethical and appropriate around children.

"He is absolutely ethical," said McClellan.

Rosenberg said she considered herself a good judge of character and "can tell when someone's odd, in some way."

Genise said she had directed Bucy in plays at Camelot that also had children as cast members.

"No one had any issues with Sunshine," she said.

During cross examination, Genise said Bucy had dated her teenage daughter without her knowledge.

"I did not know about it," Genise said, adding she believed her daughter was 18 at the time, but she was not certain.

Bucy was slated to play a leading role in Ashland Contemporary Theatre's production of "Illyria: A Musical Twelfth Night" at the time of his arrest. Several of the party-goers the night of the alleged abuse were cast members. Orr called back one of the state's earlier witnesses, also a cast member, to rebut the women's character assessment of Bucy.

Rose Blackford, along with several other witnesses, had earlier testified Bucy was drunk and stated he wanted to marry the alleged victim when she was 10 years older the night of the party.

Blackford took the stand late Thursday and related a tearful account of another evening at Bucy's home. Bucy had bought alcohol for herself and two other underage companions. As the party wore on, Bucy smoked marijuana and made sexual advances toward her 18-year-old female friend, Blackford said.

"He kept running his hand inside her thigh and trying to touch her," Blackford said. "He took her aside and she was really, really drunk."

Over Blackford's objections, Bucy took the young woman upstairs to a bedroom. The girl later returned downstairs, crying and stating she wanted to go home, Blackford said.

"I find (Bucy) very creepy. I don't like being alone with him," Blackford said.

Carini moved for a mistrial. Judge Tim Barnack denied Carini's motion, but he allowed the jurors to be excused for testimony Carini wanted on the record.

After calling McClellan and Rosenberg back in an effort to discredit Blackford, Carini then requested Blackford's friend be called on a cell phone. Barnack swore her in, and, over the speaker phone, the young woman corroborated Blackford's account of the evening.

Bucy did not "molest or rape" her, she said. But he did provide alcohol and make sexual advances.

"He pressured me into drinking," she said. "It felt like he took emotional advantage of me and kissed me. I had never been kissed and he was going to try and take things further."

The jury was called back in the courtroom for closing arguments. Orr urged the jury find Bucy guilty.

"We don't like to think these kinds of things happen," Orr said.

Sanne Specht is a reporter at the Mail Tribune. Reach her at 541-776-4497 or e-mail

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