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A man charged with several sex crimes rejected a plea deal during a hearing in Linn County Circuit Court on Tuesday, telling the judge that he suffers from mental illness and needed more evaluations before he could make a decision.

But the prosecution, defense and judge all warned him that the negotiated settlement might not be on the table again.

David Dugan, 47, of Eugene will undergo testing to determine whether he can aid and assist in his own defense. The next hearing in the case was scheduled for April 11.

Dugan is charged with five counts of first-degree sex abuse and three counts of first-degree sodomy. The crimes in the case allegedly occurred between 2007 and 2010, when the male victim was elementary school aged.

“I don’t understand what’s happening half the time,” Dugan told Judge DeAnn Novotny. Dugan added that he wasn’t getting help for his mental health issues and was feeling pressure to accept the negotiated settlement, which called on him to plead to three of the charges.

“I’m not being listened to. I’m being more or less told,” he added.

Defense attorney Heidi Sternhagen told the court that Dugan does suffer from mental health problems but those weren’t significant enough that they would help his defense.

Novotny said she didn’t have reason to doubt Dugan’s competency based on her observations in court.

“Sometimes people have mental health issues, but it doesn’t mean they won’t be found responsible for a crime,” Novotny said to Dugan.

The Linn County Sheriff’s Office investigated the case and arrested Dugan in October. According to a probable cause affidavit, in an interview Dugan admitted to at least one of the crimes.

The victim told a deputy that the abuse occurred three or four times a week for years.

In a handwritten letter to the court in January, Dugan asked for new counsel in the case, saying that he wasn’t being treated fairly because he was poor and unintelligent.

He wrote that he was told by his defense team that he could get 100 years in prison. “They have been telling me I wouldn’t have a chance at trial,” Dugan said.

“I didn’t force the victim to do this. I had to move away because he wouldn’t listen,” Dugan added. “The victim just would not leave (me) alone! I’m the victim in this whole thing!”

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.


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