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Judge declines to alter teen’s sentence

by KAYE THORNBRUGH
Staff Writer | October 6, 2021 1:00 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — A judge denied a motion Friday to modify to the sentence of a teen who was accused of raping an intoxicated girl.

The 18-year-old offender pleaded guilty in accordance with Alford to injury to a child, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

By entering an Alford plea, he did not admit guilt but acknowledged there was enough evidence that he might be convicted if the case went to trial.

The Press is not naming the offender because he was a minor at the time of the event and his conviction.

District Judge Cynthia Meyer sentenced the offender last month to 10 years in prison, with four years fixed and six indeterminate.

Meyer opted to retain jurisdiction in the case.

This means the offender will spend up to a year in a prison treatment program, called a rider, before Meyer either places him on probation or sends him back to prison.

The conviction stems from January 2020, when a Hayden Lake teen reported that she had been sexually assaulted at a house party in Dalton Gardens.

The offender and victim were both 16 years old at the time of the event.

Witnesses at the party told police the offender sent a video via Snapchat that appeared to show him engaged in sexual activity with the girl in a bedroom.

At that point, two partygoers reportedly went to break up the activity.

They told police they found the girl unresponsive in bed, wearing only a shirt and underwear, while the offender was dressed.

They also found a used condom on the bed, which police later collected as evidence.

The girl was so drunk she couldn’t speak or keep her eyes open, witnesses said, and she had to be carried into a bathroom, where she vomited uncontrollably.

She sought medical care and reported the incident to police the next day, according to court documents.

Prosecutors charged the offender with rape in August 2020.

As part of a pretrial settlement agreement, he pleaded guilty in April to the amended charge of injury to a child.

In Idaho, injury to a child occurs when a person willfully causes or permits a child to be placed in a position that causes or is likely to cause great bodily injury, suffering or death.

Prosecutors recommended retained jurisdiction in the case.

Before handing down a sentence, Judge Meyer called the case “a parent’s worst nightmare.”

Video showed in court showed the offender at a party that occurred prior to sentencing.

In the footage, he wore a shirt emblazoned with the words, “I am not a felon.”

Meyer described the behavior in the video as “flippant, arrogant and cruel,” adding that it mocked the victim’s pain.

The offender is currently held at the North Idaho Correctional Institution in Cottonwood.

His attorney asked the court to modify his sentence to local jail with work release, citing a risk assessment algorithm that reportedly found the offender to have a low to moderate risk of recidivism.

“This one month has been a learning experience and has humbled me,” the offender said in court Friday. “I think the treatment is a little excessive. I don’t believe treatment is needed.”

Judge Meyer denied the motion, noting what she described as “criminal thinking” and “arrogance.”

“If your attitude is you don’t need this and won’t get anything out of it, then you won’t,” she told the offender. “I suggest you continue to be humble.”

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