Plea bargain ends yearlong rape case involving disabled victim

SANTA BARBARA — A plea bargain Wednesday put to rest a rape case in which the purported victim was a disabled female resident of a special needs care facility.

On June 13, 2009, Christopher Coates, 35, was working as a caregiver for a seriously disabled adult at the Santa Barbara facility, where he was accused by a 36-year-old handicapped resident of rape and forced oral copulation.

“At that time he was booked on charges of lascivious acts with a dependent adult and dissuading a witness,” said Lt. Paul McCaffrey of the Santa Barbara Police Department. The charges stemmed from the report of sexual assault by the victim, a 36-year-old handicapped woman.

With his trial scheduled for this week, a plea bargain was struck “in the best interests of the victim,” according to Deputy District Attorney Paula Waldman, who added that the victim’s family “was very satisfied and relieved to put this behind them, understanding that it’s another sad case of someone in a position of trust taking advantage in such a personal and private way.”

The terms of Coates’ guilty plea on charges of sexual battery against a seriously disabled adult mean that he will never be allowed to work again with dependent adults, children or elders, and that he will undergo sexual assault risk assessment with life registration as a sex offender. The sentence from the bench included 270 days in county jail and three years of supervised felony probation.

Christopher Coates

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