BLACKFOOT — A Blackfoot man who threatened teenage girls into sending him sexual videos was sentenced to prison Wednesday.
Shae Rolfe, 20, was arrested in August after the victims reported he had threatened to sue them and publish previously sent videos if they did not continue to send him sexual footage.
Rolfe was originally charged with sexual battery of a child, sexual exploitation by enticing a child to engage or be used for sexual material, and possession of sexually exploitative material. He pleaded guilty to the charge for enticing a child as part of a plea agreement to have the other charges dropped. He sentenced to serve two to 12 years in prison. Rolfe will have to register as a sex offender upon release.
Much of Rolfe’s defense focused on his experience growing up as a victim of bullying. District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said he was sympathetic to Rolfe’s struggles, but he had to be held accountable.
“You were bullying in the way you were bullied,” Watkins said.
According to court records, Rolfe solicited videos from 120 people online, including several underage girls. He told them he would pay $5,000 for a video every two weeks. Rolfe would tell them what sex acts to perform, some of which involved other people or animals.
Several victims told law enforcement they offered Rolfe money to not release the videos and threatened suicide if he did.
An investigation by The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force discovered sexual photos of the victims on Rolfe’s phone and iPad.
Defense Attorney Justin Oleson said in court his client was also under investigation in multiple states, and that the U.S. Prosecutor’s Office had considered filing federal charges, but decided to leave it in state court.
Oleson called Rolfe’s mother, Kathryn Rolfe, to testify as a character witness. Kathryn Rolfe said she did not condone what her son did and that he needed treatment.
“He wants to get help with the problem he has. He wants to go to school, go to college,” Kathryn Rolfe said. “He wants to be a productive member of society.”
Oleson asked Kathryn Rolfe about her son’s 2014 case. Shae Rolfe had been under investigation for similar charges. Shae Rolfe, who was a minor at the time, did not appear for a juvenile court hearing and law enforcement did not follow up on the case. Kathryn Rolfe said she had not been aware a warrant had been issued for her son’s arrest.
Kathryn Rolfe said her son was remorseful for his actions and that he “does not have a mean bone in his body.”
Bingham County Prosecutor Paul Rogers said Shae Rolfe’s actions needed prison time due to the number of people he targeted, and that it was too risky to let him back into the community.
“He has continued the same harmful behavior for the last five years,” Rogers said.
Oleson said his client suffered from an addiction and he should be treated like a defendant with a drug addiction. He argued that while the victims “may have” been coerced, they sent the videos willingly, and Rolfe would be facing probation if it weren’t for the age of a few of the victims.
Oleson also criticized law enforcement for letting the 2014 case sit for so long. Kathryn Rolfe said law enforcement had taken computers and returned them two weeks later.
Rogers defended law enforcement’s actions and said Shae Rolfe hadn’t just solicited videos of underage girls, but threatened them.
Rolfe apologized for his actions, telling Watkins he believed he could overcome his crimes.
“I’m disgusted with myself and hope someday they will be able to forgive me,” Rolfe said.
Watkins said he believed Rolfe was sincere in his regret. The judge also agreed the lack of follow-up in his 2014 case was a mistake. He added, however, that Rolfe needed to be held accountable for his actions.
“There are individuals that are suffering with depression like you were years ago because of your actions,” Watkins said.