In 1994, Patricia Reser left her McMinnville, Oregon home and traveled to Dallas, Texas where she dropped off her four children ranging in age from 4 to 8 with a friend and promised to return in several days.
Reser, who would later describe herself as a “drug dealer, a whore, a thief, a junkie and a bad mommy,” never returned. She went back to Oregon and resumed her life.
Four years later, Reser had another child, a daughter, and became embroiled in a dispute over custody. At about the same time, her other four children, who were still living in Texas where Reser’s friend had become their foster mother, claimed they had been sexually abused by Reser and her boyfriend, Jerry Dean Littleton, of Baker City, Oregon, when they were still living with her in McMinnville.
Littleton and Reser, 34, were arrested on charges of rape and sodomy. In June 1999, the charges were dismissed against Littleton for lack of evidence, but Reser went on trial that August in Yamhill County Court.
At the trial, the four children—a girl and three boys—testified that from 1988 until they went to Texas they were forced to have sex with each other and with Reser and her boyfriend. They claimed they frequently went hungry—resorting to stealing to get food—and that she physically abused them as well, hitting them with wooden boards and a golf club.
Reser denied that any sexual abuse ever occurred and said she never struck the children with boards or a golf club. She admitted that she was a poor mother and that she had numerous sexual partners, used and sold drugs, stole to support her drug habit and that she occasionally slapped the children.
She told the jury that she believed the children had been persuaded by therapists and their foster mother to make the claims.
A counselor of the children told the jury that children were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and that they were too young to fake it.
No physical evidence was presented to substantiate the claims of sex abuse.
On August 15, 1999, she was convicted of 17 counts of first-degree rape, eight counts of sodomy and four counts of first-degree sex abuse. She was sentenced to 116 years in prison.
In 2002, two of the older boys told their foster mother that they had lied about the sex abuse, rapes and sodomy. Oregon state police commenced a re-investigation of the case and all four children recanted and passed polygraph examinations.
On May 31, 2002, prosecutors and defense attorneys presented a joint motion for a new trial and Reser was released on bail pending another trial. On June 18, 2002, the charges were dismissed.
– Maurice Possley