Gresham man admits to befriending boys in park, sexually abusing them

Gresham man admits to befriending boys in park, sexually abusing them
Richard James Ascoli.

GRESHAM, Ore. – Police arrested a 20-year-old man Tuesday after they said he sexually abused at least two children he befriended in a park.

Police say Richard James Ascoli sexually abused a 7- or 8-year-old boy in Rockwood Central Park at Southeast 176th Avenue and Yamhill Street. They say he also abused an 8-year-old boy.

According to a police affidavit, a neighbor stumbled across Ascoli and the first boy, both partially clothed, behind some bushes on June 10 and called police. During an interview three days later, Ascoli admitted to two incidents of abuse with the boy, police said.

Then, on Monday, another neighbor noticed Ascoli walking to the park, then return to his home with the second boy. The neighbor knew of Ascoli’s reputation, so he knocked on Ascoli’s door and confronted him, asking whether he had done anything sexual with the boy.

“Yeah, but he started it,” Ascoli responded, according to the affidavit.

The neighbor called police, who tracked Ascoli down in the same park on Tuesday. As they were talking, the 8-year-old walked by and said hello. When officers asked Ascoli if it was the same boy, he said it was, and admitted to several instances of abuse.

Detectives say they believe there may be other victims.

Ascoli is not related to the boys, police say. Police also said he suffers from autism, although they didn't elaborate on that in their report.

Anyone with information about these cases or additional victims is asked to contact Detective Mike Malanaphy at (503) 823-0278 or Mike.Malanaphy@PortlandOregon.gov.