An Idaho Falls man was sentenced Wednesday to two to 20 years in prison for attempting to have sex with a minor.
Christopher Michael Clingerman, 24, was arrested in June after the Idaho Falls Police Department learned he had been seen kissing and groping a 13-year-old girl. The two were in a dating relationship. Clingerman told the victim his name was Chris Carter, a name he used on social media, and that he was 17 years old.
The victim told police Clingerman had attempted to have sex with her once at a park before she pushed him off. Her mother had seen him near her apartment, but he fled when he realized he had been seen.
Clingerman admitted to kissing the victim, but denied groping her.
Defense Attorney Jordan Crane said his client should be given retained jurisdiction so he could receive treatment for his behavior and drug addiction.
“Chris took responsibility for what he did and owned up to that conduct,” Crane said.
Crane said Clingerman had been more forthcoming about the details of the relationship than the victim, who declined a forensic interview. Crane also said his client had passed the polygraph test when asked if there were other victims.
The attorneys had agreed to cap an underlying sentence at two determinate years in prison, the time Clingerman would have to serve before he would be eligible for parole. Crane said his client would be near that two-year time frame after finishing a rider program, having already served seven months in jail.
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey asked for a prison sentence of two to 14 years with no rider program.
“We don’t think that provides an appropriate deterrence to the defendant or to others in the community with regards to this crime,” Dewey said.
Dewey noted Clingerman did not have sex with the victim, but pointed out that he was found with the same girl a month after he was first arrested. Dewey also said a presentence investigation found Clingerman was a high risk to reoffend.
Clingerman said his actions were the result of poor decisions, and that treatment could help him.
“If I had just kept on the right path, I think I would have made better decisions about my behavior,” Clingerman said.
Retired District Judge Jon Shindurling, filling in for District Judge Bruce Pickett, gave a longer sentence than either attorney recommended. He said he was concerned by Clingerman’s criminal history and that he returned to the victim after being arrested.
“There should have been red flags in your brain about what you were doing,” Shindurling said.
Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.