Benton City volunteer firefighter found guilty of sexually abusing girls

KENNEWICK - A Benton City man could spend the rest of his life in prison after a jury convicted him Monday of sexually abusing five young girls.

Bob Trainor, 46, showed no reaction when the Benton County Superior Court clerk repeated "guilty" five times as she read aloud the jury's verdict.

"Obviously my client is very disappointed, as you can imagine," defense attorney Larry Stephenson said after the verdict. "These are very, very serious charges ... so he's very down. ... He expected to be found not guilty."

Trainor, an ex-Marine who worked at Hanford for 21 years and was a volunteer captain with Benton Fire District 1, was convicted of two counts of second-degree rape of a child and one count each of first-degree rape of a child, first-degree child molestation and third-degree child molestation.

Testimony indicated the abuse occurred repeatedly over the years, beginning in 2002 and as recently as Dec. 31. Court documents said the incidents began when the youngest of the five girls was about 7 years old.

Trainor was a trusted adult to the girls.

The five girls testified during the weeklong trial. Trainor also took the stand in his own defense on Friday and continued to deny having inappropriate contact with the girls.

"I'm just absolutely pleased with the guilty verdict and that the jury listened to these young girls tell their story and believed them," said Deputy Prosecutor Anita Petra. "The defense theory was this was a grand conspiracy, and the jury clearly didn't buy that."

The seven men and five women on the jury panel deliberated for about an hour Friday before breaking for the weekend. They continued for about another two hours Monday morning before reaching a verdict.

Trainor was arrested Jan. 14, two days after a suicide letter written by one of the girls was discovered. The investigation resulted in the four other girls also revealing they had been abused by Trainor.

He has been out of jail since Jan. 29 after posting bond on $50,000 bail, but was immediately taken into custody following the verdict Monday.

Petra, who met with the girls Monday afternoon, said they were "absolutely elated" with the verdict and news that Trainor was again behind bars.

"It's been difficult for them because he has been out in the community," she said. "It's a great comfort to these young girls now (that he's in custody)."

Trainor is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 9.

He is facing a minimum of 20 to 25 years in prison, but his ultimate release will be up to a state board because the sex offenses qualify for an indeterminate sentence, which means he could remain in prison for life.