A Rigby man who hired a child prostitute online has been sentenced to prison.
District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. sentenced Randy Russell Sargent, 68, to a minimum of one-and-a-half years in prison and up to 13-and-a-half years in prison.
Watkins acknowledged Sargent had made every effort to take responsibility for his crimes and that the sex acts were limited to touching, but said the crime was too serious for a probation sentence.
“Let me be clear; you molested a child and the court cannot escape those facts,” Watkins said.
Charges for sexual battery of a minor and enticing a minor through the internet were filed in December. The sexual battery charge was dropped as part of a plea agreement.
According to court records, Sargent met the 16-year-old boy on Craigslist, believing he was an adult. When they met, the child claimed he had a disease that stopped him from growing.
Sargent told police he asked for the boy’s driver’s license and birth certificate, but was refused. Sargent exchanged explicit photos with the boy.
Defense Attorney Stephen Meikle said his client had no history of child sexual abuse. He cited the psychosexual evaluation that found Sargent was a low risk to reoffend. A presentence investigator recommended probation.
Meikle argued there was no risk to the community if Sargent was supervised, though he noted the public would want to “throw the book at people who fall from grace in this way.”
Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey agreed Sargent had acknowledged his crimes and appeared to be of low risk to the community. However, he said sex crimes against children should not be considered for probation sentences.
Dewey pointed out Sargent had exchanged photos with four other underage boys, and that his crime was more than a mistake.
“Based upon these facts, I don’t think it’s appropriate for the court to place the defendant on probation, despite all the mitigation Mr. Meikle aptly pointed out,” Dewey said.
Sargent apologized to the court and victim in his statements to Watkins.
“I am ashamed and humiliated,” Sargent said. “I have disrespected myself and my family and my friends and the community. I’m so disgusted with myself that I have a hard time looking at myself.”
Watkins said he believed Sargent was sincere in his regret.
“So many of these cases result in just a great and significant degree of sadness for everyone involved,” Watkins said.
In addition to prison time, Sargent was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine. He will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.