On Oct. 21, Rigby resident Joshua Grover, 37, appeared in court for sentencing. He had pleaded guilty to felony injury of a child as part of a plea agreement arranged by his attorney.
The conduct that took place nearly 20 years ago when Grover was a teenager included multiple rapes of a younger girl. Grover admitted to engaging in sexual activity with the younger child but denied forcing the victim to commit sexual acts.
For those actions, Grover will serve no time in prison and will not be required to register as a sex offender. District Judge Stevan Thompson agreed to withhold judgment while Grover serves his probation, meaning the charge could one day be cleared from Grover’s record.
The felony injury of a child charge was filed against Grover on April 5, the same day the plea agreement was filed. Grover was never arrested and served no time in jail. In the plea agreement, the Jefferson County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to recommend a probation sentence.
Two other victims were given standing in the case as part of a plea agreement. One of the victims said she was 9 years old when Grover, then 14, started abusing her. Grover has denied both of their allegations.
Jefferson County Deputy Prosecutor Michael Winchester said that plea agreement came at the request of the victims, who he said told him they did not want Grover to be incarcerated or lose his business, a trucking company based in North Dakota. He said they instead wanted an acknowledgment of the crime.
“These victims, they didn’t want to see his life ruined,” Winchester said.
According to Winchester, the victims did not initially report the crimes or want criminal charges. He said the prosecutor’s office learned of the crimes through a third party and filed the charge.
Before sentencing, Grover was required to undergo a polygraph examination to determine if there were other victims. Grover showed no signs of deception.
A presentence investigation also determined Grover was a low risk to reoffend. The investigators assign defendants a Level of Service Inventory score, a number measuring factors that may contribute to the defendant’s likelihood to reoffend. A high score is typically in the high 20s or 30s. Grover had an LSI score of 2.
Both Winchester and Defense Attorney Curtis Smith agreed Grover was unlikely to repeat his actions, and Smith said he had rarely seen an LSI score as low as his client’s.
Smith said his client’s record was clean. He said the offenses happened when Grover was a juvenile himself, and that he had cooperated with the court, waiving the preliminary hearing and admitting to his actions.
Smith also said the years Grover has gone without victimizing anyone show he poses no threat to the community.
“What behavior do we need to change?” Smith asked.
Grover gave a brief statement to the court expressing regret for his actions.
“I truly am sorry for any damage that I have done,” Grover said.
Thompson pointed out that Grover had disputed several of the claims, including that the sex acts were forced and that they continued until after he was a legal adult.
The judge said he was upset by several letters sent to him by Grover’s family blaming the victims and stating the prosecutor’s office should never have filed the case. Thompson said one of the letters believed the accusation was made out of jealousy of Grover’s financial success. Another said the victims “wanted it.”
Thompson asked Grover to consider if people treated one of his own children in a similar manner for coming forward to report sexual abuse as a child.
“I guess I wonder how you would counsel your own children,” Thompson said.
Thompson accused Grover of re-victimizing the women who came forward with his denials of the seriousness of the offenses.
“These are the reasons victims don’t report crimes like this,” Thompson said. “You really don’t deny the things that happened. You just deny they happened after you were 18 and that none of them happened by force.”
Despite his frustration with how Grover and his family had handled the case, Thompson agreed with both attorneys that there was not an ongoing threat and agreed to a probation sentence.
Grover will be required to pay $4,663.50 in fines and fees as part of the sentence, some of which will help cover counseling costs for the victims. His probation will last three years.