Dad who abandoned baby in woods near Bend takes plea deal

Brandon Blouin accepts a 32-month prison term

BEND, Ore. - (Update: Adding info from prosecutor, sentencing hearing)

A 26-year-old Ohio man who abandoned his 1-year-old son in the woods south of Bend nearly a year ago has accepted a plea deal that will send him to prison for more than 2 1/2 years, a court petition filed Tuesday stated.

Brandon Michael Blouin made worldwide headlines after leaving his son, Bradley, in the woods south of Bend on May 10, after he went looking for the boy’s mother. She had taken off from the car they were living in off China Hat Road. Blouin said he’d set the child down and couldn’t find him.

Word of the missing child sparked an extensive six-hour search that ended when the sleeping boy was found naked and face-down in the dirt and brush but otherwise appearing to be in fairly good shape.

But later, prosecutors said an examination found the boy had a broken leg, cracked skull and methamphetamine in his system. Blouin was accused of unlawfully taking the child from his grandmother in West Virginia, who is Bradley’s legal guardian.

Last November, Blouin failed to appear for a court hearing in the case and an anonymous tip led to his arrest later in the month at a Bend motel. Authorities said he had a dagger-type knife at the time of his arrest, leading to an added charge of being a felon in possession of a weapon.

After a settlement conference on Monday, Blouin signed a four-page petition in which he agreed to enter an Alford plea of guilty to three charges — first-degree criminal mistreatment (a Class C felony), endangering the welfare of a minor and felon in possession of body armor.

In exchange, the three other charges -- first-degree custodial interference, second-degree child neglect and abandonment of a child -- were dismissed.

Blouin agreed to a 32-month prison sentence for the criminal mistreatment charge, a 30-day concurrent jail term for the body armor count and five years probation for endangering the welfare of a minor. He also agreed to have no contact with his son and the boy’s mother and grandmother.

In an Alford plea of guilty, a defendant maintains their innocence but admits the prosecution’s evidence likely would lead to a guilty verdict, if brought to trial.

The settlement came a week before Blouin was scheduled to go on trial.

Blouin’s petition said he accepted the plea “because I recognize the risk I run at trial and want to take advantage of the state’s offer.”

Deputy District Attorney Jason Kropf said the settlement conference Monday lasted late into the day, followed by a sentencing hearing Tuesday morning at which the boy’s grandmother spoke by phone.

Blouin also spoke briefly before Circuit Judge Wells Ashby imposed sentence, according to the prosecutor, saying he was appreciative of Deschutes County sheriff’s Detective Doug Jackson finding his son in the woods that day. Jackson was in the courtroom for Tuesday’s sentencing, Kropf added.

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