An Idaho Falls man who admitted to having sex with an underage girl was sentenced to prison Monday.
Corwin Raymond Cole, 33, was arrested in May after he shared pictures of the victim with members of a veterans support group. The other members suspected the victim was underage and reported Cole to law enforcement. Investigators recognized the victim from other cases as a 16-year-old girl and found several photos of Cole having sex with her.
Cole was charged with rape where the victim is 16 or 17 years old and sexual exploitation of a child by possessing sexually exploitative material. He was not accused of hiring the victim as a prostitute.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. sentenced Cole to two-and-a-half years fixed in prison, with an indeterminate period of 12 years.
"In order to avoid prison in this case is impossible," Watkins said, citing Cole's admission that he had sex with the victim multiple times despite knowing her age.
"LOL I seriously have to be careful who I open pictures around now because I've got so many pictures of you on there and having illegal pictures of my 16 year old girlfriends is thrilling and scary at the same time sometimes LMAO," Cole wrote in a message to the victim, according to court documents.
Defense Attorney Douglas Knutson said his client had cooperated with investigators, surrendering his phone and computer and agreeing to an interview. He pointed out that the victim in Cole's case had been a victim in other cases after prostituting herself online.
"This woman, despite her young age, came to the attention of local law enforcement because she was advertising herself on Craigslist ... for sex," Knutson said.
Knutson said the lead detective in Cole's case told him the Idaho Falls Police Department had caught at least 10 suspects by investigating the victim. The defense attorney was critical of a victim impact statement submitted by the victim, which he said contained allegations that had not come up in the investigation. Knutson noted that it was not signed by the victim, and was submitted to the Bonneville County Prosecutor's Office by the victim's mother.
Knutson asked that Cole be placed on a rider program, citing his cooperation with Pretrial Services and his low risk to reoffend.
"He wants to address his own problems, which were in place before he ever met this girl," Knutson said.
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey said the pictures found in the investigation spoke for themselves. He conceded that the victim impact statement was not what he had expected, but told the judge not to disregard it because it reflects the victim's feelings.
Dewey also cited statements Cole made during an interview stating he still loved the victim and wanted to have a relationship with her. Dewey said the victim had told Cole she had been sexually abused before, and that Cole had sex with her regardless, telling investigators he wanted to "show her something better."
Dewey asked the judge to extend the no-contact order in the case, and said a rider program would diminish the seriousness of the offense. He recommended a two-year fixed sentence, arguing a shorted fixed period was appropriate because Cole cooperated with investigators and had passed a polygraph examination.
Cole told the judge he regretted his actions and the pain he caused the victim.
"I did wrong, and I know that, and I want to take responsibility for that," Cole said.
Watkins praised Cole for his desire to change his outlook on his offense, but expressed concern that Cole had said he wanted to continue the relationship. The judge said the fixed sentence could have been longer if Cole had not cooperated with law enforcement and expressed a desire for treatment.
Watkins said the victim impact statement was not as important as the fact that Cole had sex with the victim multiple times. He cited language used by both attorneys, calling the victim "broken" and "damaged."
"How long did it take you in your relationship with this child to see that she was broken and damaged?" Watkins asked. "I suspect that it was early."
In addition to prison time, Cole was charged a $1,000 fine to go to the state and a $1,000 compensatory fine for the victim. Cole will have to register as a sex offender when he is released from prison.