Former SH judge jailed

Former Sweet Home Municipal Court Judge Larry K. Houchin, 70, is serving a 30-day jail sentence at Polk County Jail for official misconduct, harassment and sexual abuse.

The Oregon Department of Justice filed the case on Aug. 31. Houchin was sentenced under a plea agreement on Sept. 1 before Judge Rick J. McCormick in Linn County Circuit Court. Houchin pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree official misconduct, third-degree sexual abuse and harassment.

The sentence included 30 days in jail and five years of probation. He also was required to perform 80 hours of compensatory service, undergo a sex offender assessment and begin treatment on a timely basis. He also is required to register as a sex offender and surrender his license to practice law.

Houchin was charged in connection to incidents with four women.

He was charged with one count of official misconduct for activity between Aug. 1, 2007 and March 13, 2008 and a second charge for activity between Aug. 1, 2008 and Dec. 25, 2008 for using his judicial status to gain access to one woman for a sexual purpose.

He was charged with sexual abuse for activity between Dec. 11, 2007 and Nov. 24, 2008 where he subjected another woman to sexual contact and touching. He was charged with harassment for an incident on or about Dec. 19, 2008 for intimately and offensively touching a fourth woman.

Houchin was working as Lebanon Municipal Court Judge during the time of the incidents. He started in that position in 1999 and resigned at the end of 2008.

Houching served as judge in Sweet Home from 1998 to 2006. The Sweet Home City Council chose not renew his contract at the time.

The Depatment of Justice was investigating a complaint at the time.

A woman arrested for failing to appear on a drunken driving charge told investigators she had met Houchin for lunch and visited his home. She told investigators nothing sexual had happened. The investigation was closed when the woman became uncooperative.

The Department of Justice report said that Houchin told investigators he was trying to help her get her life in order and succeed.

Prior to his appointment as judge in Sweet Home, Houchin had retired after some 30 years as a deputy district attorney for Linn County.