A Kelso man already convicted in two child sex cases this year went on trial in a third case this week, with the alleged victim taking the stand Wednesday afternoon.
The then-10-year-old victim testified that Munger on several occasions had unwanted sexual contact with her, beginning just two days after they met. She described one occasion in which she was too scared to move or tell Munger to stop when he sexually assaulted her, since Munger had become mad at her before.
After that assault, Munger, who was her family’s landlord at the time, threatened to have her and her family evicted from their home if she told anyone, according to the victim’s testimony and police records.
Munger was arrested in June 2017, one day after the victim, now 12, told investigators about Munger’s behavior.
The trial is expected to last through the week. It is deciding the last of seven child sex allegations against Munger, 70.
Munger pleaded guilty in June to first- and second-degree possession of child pornography as part of a Alford plea, in which he maintained innocence but acknowledged the evidence could convict him. Another charge of first-degree child pornography possession was dropped at that time.
He was convicted of first-degree child molestation in mid-October.
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He won’t be sentenced until the outcome of the first-degree child rape case that went to trial this week. He stood trial on the rape case in October, but the case ended in a mistrial when jurors could not reach a verdict on one count of first-degree child rape, setting up this week’s retrial. Jurors did convict him of two counts of child molestation.
Prosecutors originally tried to try Munger on all these charges at once. But the trial in November 2018 ended in a mistrial, too, due to conflicts between Munger and his attorney at the time, Josh Baldwin.
Baldwin asked to withdraw from the case. The two “engaged in a heated discussion” in the courtroom, with Munger swearing at Baldwin and Baldwin yelling back, according to court records.
“Mr. Baldwin noted that on only one prior occasion has the relationship between himself and a client been so strained and damaged as to require him to bring a motion to withdraw during a trial,” court records state.
Superior Court Judge Michael Evans allowed Baldwin to withdraw. Munger’s current attorney, James Curtis, took over. Munger has repeatedly asked judges to dismiss Curtis, but judges have so far declined to do so.
In June, a judge agreed with a defense motion to separate Munger’s total of seven total charges into three separate cases: One each for both of his alleged child victims, and a third for charges of child porn possession.