A judge sentenced a man to 30 years in the Montana State Prison on Thursday for having sex with a 15-year-old stepdaughter when they lived in Butte five years ago, and he faces separate rape charges in Idaho.
The 44-year-old man, who is not being named by The Montana Standard to protect the victim's identity, was technically sentenced to 60 years for felony incest, but District Judge Kurt Krueger suspended 30 of them.
The man must complete two sex-offender treatment programs before parole is possible, but even without that, he must serve at least a quarter of the 30-year term before he is eligible for early release.
Following a psychosexual examination, the state designated him as a Tier II sex offender, meaning there is a moderate risk of him committing future sex offenses.
“He’s going away for a long time,” said Samm Cox, the lead prosecutor in the case, after the sentencing hearing.
Although the terms were recommendations in a plea agreement, the man's public defender — Walter Hennessey — asked Krueger to impose fewer years of actual prison time, in part because “he still faces charges in Idaho.”
When Krueger asked him what the charges were, Hennessey said two counts of rape, also involving a family member.
According to prosecutors here, the girl came to the Butte-Silver Bow law enforcement building on Nov. 23, 2013, and said her stepfather came into her bedroom on a recent night and had sex with her. She had since tested positive for being pregnant.
The man told police he never had sex with the girl but was aware she was pregnant. But as police continued their investigation in subsequent days, the man, the girl, and her mother could not be found.
In May 2017, a Butte detective got a phone call from Child Protection Services in Idaho. They said DNA tests confirmed that the man was the father of the girl’s two oldest children, including the one she was pregnant with when she talked to Butte police several years prior.
The girl had another child in 2017, but DNA results weren’t back by the time the man was arrested in Idaho, and returned to Montana and Cox filed charges against him that July. But the victim told authorities about multiple rapes in Montana and Idaho.
As part of the plea deal, the man pleaded guilty to one count of felony incest. It carries a maximum of life in prison, but in exchange for the plea, prosecutors recommended 60 years with 30 suspended and the treatment requirements.
Krueger rejected Hennessey’s request for fewer years, saying the man had shown “no indication of remorse” for his actions.
“This was a 15-year-old that you gave a life sentence to in terms of trauma...” Krueger told the defendant.