Leroy Milton Cotterell

Cotterell

An Idaho Falls man who turned himself in for raping a mentally handicapped teenage girl was sentenced to prison Wednesday.

Leroy Cotterell, 46, was arrested in October after he contacted police to admit to the sexual abuse. The victim’s family had separately contacted law enforcement to report the rape.

Cotterell was charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a minor and one count of sexual abuse of a minor. The charges were reduced to one count of lewd conduct as part of the plea agreement.

Whether Cotterell’s confession mitigated his crime was a focus in both the prosecution’s and defense’s arguments at the sentencing.

Bonneville County Chief Public Defender Jordan Crane said his client’s criminal history was limited to non-violent misdemeanors. He said Cotterell confessed because he did not want the abuse to continue.

Crane also cited Cotterell’s meth addiction, saying the 307 days he’d been in prison was the longest Cotterell had been sober. Crane suggested a rider program focused on addiction and sex offender treatment could help his client.

Bonneville County Deputy Prosecutor Alex Muir argued for prison, citing a presentence investigation report that determined Cotterell was a high risk to reoffend.

Muir read from the report that found Cotterell had not taken full responsibility for the rape, despite his confession. His version of events, in which Cotterell said he raped the victim once, differed from the victim’s who said she was raped multiple times.

Cotterell told law enforcement the teen girl with a mental disability had been the aggressor in the sexual encounter and that he only went along.

Muir also cited the results of a polygraph that found Cotterell was deceptive. He failed the polygraph when asked if the sex was his idea, when asked if he had raped her more than once, and when asked if there were multiple victims. Muir also argued that his meth addiction did not mitigate the crime.

Cotterell again mentioned his confession to the judge when invited to speak.

“I turned myself in because I knew it was wrong,” he said.

District Judge Bruce Pickett agreed that Cotterell deserved credit for turning himself in. He noted, however, that it happened after the sex abuse allegations became known.

Pickett also dismissed the idea that the victim wanted sex with Cotterell because he was the adult.

“Whether she pushed it or you pushed it, that is completely irrelevant,” Pickett said.

The judge ruled the seriousness of the crime warranted a prison sentence, and that he doubted a rider program would provide enough time to treat Cotterell. He sentenced Cotterell to a minimum of six years in prison with a maximum of 25 years.

Cotterell will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.

Reporter Johnathan Hogan can be reached at 208-542-6746.