On Tuesday afternoon, District Judge Brad Newman sentenced William Patrick Shea to 25 years in the Montana State Prison, with 20 years suspended and credit for the 391 days Shea has already served in jail, on charges he filmed an 11-year-old girl while she showered at a home in Butte.
Shea pleaded guilty to the crime of sexual abuse of a child in January.
Newman noted that the sentence means the 61-year-old Shea will be closely monitored by probation officers, even after he serves just less than four years in Deer Lodge.
The terms of Shea's probation will prohibit him from using drugs or alcohol, from having contact with the victim of his crime and his victim's mother, from associating with minors without approval and supervision, from going to places where children congregate, from possessing pornography, from accessing the internet without approval and monitoring, and from possessing a cellphone without approval, among other restrictions.
Effectively, Newman told Shea from the bench, "You will be under the thumb of the state for as long as you live."
In handing down the sentence, Newman adhered closely to the recommendations of Deputy County Attorney Kelli Fivey, who argued that Shea deserved not only rehabilitation but also punishment for his crime.
Shea was arrested last March 29, after an 11-year-old girl reported to police that she believed she was being secretly filmed while showering.
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After interviewing Shea and searching his phone, he confessed to filming the girl and watching the footage before erasing it.
At Tuesday's sentencing hearing, Fivey said Shea "moved into the role" of grandparent after the death of the victim's grandparents. In secretly filming the child, Fivey argued, Shea exploited the trust between them.
"I'm sure the court can imagine the trauma the child felt," Fivey said.
While she acknowledged the need for Shea to complete treatment and seek rehabilitation, Fivey argued, "This crime also deserves punishment."
Shea's attorney, Victor Bunitsky, asked the judge to spare his client time in prison, citing his lack of a criminal record and his remorse for the crime.
"This is a man who will not be a danger to the community," Bunitsky argued. "He made a mistake."
In explaining his sentencing, Newman rejected that line of reasoning: "This is not a mistake. It's a crime."