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Franklin man sentenced to 1 year in jail for sexual abuse of a minor

November 18th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Max Parker Dahl

LOGAN—A Franklin, Idaho man who, according to court documents, has evaded police for two years on charges of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, was sentenced for the third-degree felony in 1st District Court Tuesday.

Judge Thomas Willmore sentenced Joe Willard to serve one year in the Cache County Jail, with 70 days credit for time Willard has already served.

He was also given three years probation to be served after his release and ordered to write the victim a formal apology. Willard was then escorted out of the courtroom to return to jail. Charges of sexual abuse of a minor, a class A misdemeanor, were dropped due to an error made by the state in calculating the age difference between Willard and the minor: there were only six and one-half years instead of seven years difference, which made the charges unfounded.

Dissent was heard from the victim’s mother and James Wright, a family friend, and the state approached Judge Willmore requesting that the family be allowed to speak.

“It is important that all victim’s or victim’s family be heard by the court,” said Willmore. “Had I known that you wanted to say something, we would have considered your testimony before sentencing.”

Willard was brought back into the courtroom while the testimonies were delivered.

“Joe, I want you to know that you turned a 14-year-old into a bitter young woman, scared of everything,” said the victim’s mother. “She needs 24-hour companionship, and is still watching over her back, even though she knows he is in prison.”

Wright addressed the judge and Willard directly. “The fact that he ran for two and a half to three years should warrant prison. The fact that he admitted to the crime should warrant prison, but he walked. Cache County dropped the ball, and it sat there for years,” he said. “Joe, I know you, and I feel you should go to prison for what you did to my little girl.”

Willmore took time to explain the judicial power that he was able to exercise and his inability to change the other charges that were dropped.

“I cannot change the sentence, but I’m warning you,” the judge said, pointing at Willard, “if you do anything wrong you’re going to prison. There will be no contact of any kind, including electronic; no text messages or Facebook. This girl deserves to have peace of mind.”


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