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Court setting dangerous precedent with sexual offenders


October 2, 2017

Most people agree that a sexual act forced on any individual against heir will constitutes a heinous crime.

As citizens, we hope for the best outcomes in those situations. We trust that our justice system will work. We trust that predators will be arrested, receive a fair trial and ultimately go to prison. As a former victim/witness advocate, I watched multiple victims go through the criminal justice process. Most of the time, regardless of how involved or cooperative the victim was with the prosecution, the alleged sexual offenders pleaded guilty in exchange for a far lesser sentence or were acquitted.

There are also cases where the offender is found guilty, but the judge presiding over the case delivers a sentence that seems grossly disproportionate to the crime. I’ve noticed this happening more frequently in our 12th Judicial District Court.

Jason Keller pleaded guilty to two felony counts of sexual abuse of children. He was in possession of child pornography and shared it on the internet. Judge Daniel Boucher saw fit to sentence him to three years of probation. According to the paper, it was because he exhibited good behavior while awaiting sentencing and had no prior criminal record. Personally, I feel that viewing and distributing child pornography warrants more than probation.

Kevin Kavon of Plentywood was found guilty of raping his friend in her home while she slept. Judge Boucher sentenced him to 10 years with the Department of Corrections, with five years suspended. That means that, in all likelihood, Kavon will spend five years in prison, maximum, for rape. There are people serving more than that for drug offenses.

Perhaps the most upsetting is the case in which Edward Ghostbear sexually abused a 7-year-old girl. The minimum penalty for felony sexual assault, according to Montana state law, is a term of not less than four years. The maximum penalty is life in prison. Boucher sentenced Ghostbear to 15 years, with all but five suspended and credit for 160 days previously served. Ghostbear essentially received the minimum sentence possible for sexually abusing a child. His psychosexual evaluation suggested he is at moderate risk for re-offending, which means he will be a danger when he’s released.

The question I find myself asking is, why? Shouldn’t sexual crimes be considered more serious, or at least as serious, as drug offenses? I feel strongly that the 12th Judicial District Court is setting a precedent in which sexual offenders have little to fear in the way of punishment. If there are pedophiles in our community, they now know that if they’re caught with child pornography, they could simply be on probation. Is that really a deterrent?

If sentences were not so lenient, perhaps potential offenders would think twice before victimizing others in our community.


Amber Huestis, Havre.


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