BY ANYSSA BOHANAN
CENTRAL OREGON DAILY
Tuesday afternoon, 16-year-old Brenna Johnson faced 42-year-old Bryan Gulnac in a Deschutes County courtroom.
“I still don’t understand what you were thinking and what you don’t understand was how every time your hands touched me I felt as if I couldn’t breathe and I couldn’t move,” the teenager said.
Before August of 2017, Gulnac and his wife were family friends. Next door neighbors.
But on August 29th that year, Gulnac went next door, while Brenna was home alone, and touched her inappropriately.
“I was devastated because of who it was and really in shock, actually,” said Brenna’s mother, Alycia.
Gulnac was indicted in October of that year on multiple charges of sexual abuse and harassment.
But his trial was delayed several times, and Brenna continued to struggle emotionally.
“I’ve been having a lot of nightmares lately, like, the whole time,” Brenna said. “Like four weeks ago I almost took my life because I had seen him drive past me.”
Because Alycia works with the Deschutes County District Attorney’s office, the case was prosecuted by the Klamath County DA’s office.
In July, Gulnac pleaded no contest to one count of harassment in an effort to avoid jail time and so he didn’t have to register as a sex offender.
At Tuesday’s sentencing, the judge ordered him to serve 30 days in jail, and three years probation.
“It’s better than what I thought he was gonna get so that’s good but I wish he would have gotten more than a slap on the wrist,” Brenna said. “It was disappointing that all of the sex abuse charges got dropped and it’s just harassment, I mean he can go out and say, ‘You know, I just pushed her’, or make up some other story.”
While the Johnson’s are disappointed, Klamath County Deputy District Attorney Cole Chase, who joined the prosecution, says plea deals like Gulnac’s are common.
“Every case involves some level of negotiation, the range of the negotiation is based on the case. It’s very facts specific,” Chase said. “It’s based on the strength of the case, the evidence that’s available to the state and the availability of witnesses as well.”
Alycia, however, says farming out the case to Klamath County prosecutors, and a loop hole in Oregon law affected the outcome.
Melanie Kebler, an attorney with the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center, agreed.
“Ultimately in the state of Oregon the law, at this time, is that if the case is a sex case and it’s a misdemeanor case, the victim’s don’t have a right to be consulted about the plea offer,” Kebler said.
Said Alycia: “It wasn’t a felony because she was 14, so she was a year older than it being a felony. So what I would like to see change is that they are needing to consult with any sex abuse case.”
Despite the outcome, Brenna wants other victims to know that it’s important, to tell someone when something happens to them.
“I want them to know it’s okay and that they will come out stronger and be okay. It’s good to let everybody know what did happen, tell a trusted adult because if you don’t tings will just get worse for you,” she said.