Todd Dvorak, Associated Press
BOISE, Idaho — Former Republican state Sen. John McGee was led Tuesday from a Boise courtroom in handcuffs after being sentenced to 44 days in jail for disturbing the peace — a charge linked to allegations that he sexually harassed a 25-year-old woman working for him during the 2012 Legislature.
McGee, 39, was also ordered to serve an additional 44 days for violating terms of probation stemming from a 2011 drunken driving conviction, though the judge suggested McGee could fulfill that sentence by taking part in inmate labor detail or community service.
Once a rising star in the state's Republican Party, McGee served four terms and rose to the ranks of Majority Caucus Chairman in the Idaho Senate. But resigned in February after a legislative aide accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct in his Capitol office and patience among GOP leaders waned.
The hearing Tuesday, which started with McGee pleading guilty to disturbing the peace and violating his DUI probation, brought some finality to a political free fall that began last summer, when police say a drunk McGee took an SUV for a spin without the owner's permission.
McGee has since lost his position as marketing director at West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell and is now unemployed, said his attorney, Scott McKay.
The sentence imposed by Fourth District Magistrate James Cawthon may not have been what McGee or McKay had in mind Tuesday.
Cawthon rejected a jail sentence of five days recommended jointly by prosecutors and the defense in exchange for McGee's guilty pleas, saying it didn't reflect the serious nature of the crime.
Ada County prosecutors claim that early in the 2012 session, McGee subjected his female aide to a barrage of sexual innuendo. And in one specific instance on Feb. 7, Ada County Deputy Prosecutor Jean Fisher said McGee and the aide were alone in his office, with the door closed, when he used graphic language to demand inappropriate sexual conduct.
Fischer said the aide became upset and was able to leave the office, but before exiting was told by McGee to say the encounter never happened. That episode was followed by others, Fisher told the judge, citing police interviews with the woman.
McGee took responsibility for disturbing the peace and his behavior on Feb. 7, but McKay denied any inappropriate conduct after that.
"On Feb. 7th I acted inappropriately. I used language that I should have not have used," McGee told the judge. "I conducted myself in a way, your honor, that was offensive."
Fisher said the woman was satisfied with the proposed plea and sentence agreement that would have required McGee to pay $500 in court costs and $960 in restitution while.
In addition to the jail time, McGee must under counseling and attend classes about having healthy relationships and setting appropriate boundaries.
"She is so ready to move on and be done with this process, which has been a horrible disruption in her life," Fisher said.
Cawthon credited McGee for taking responsibility for his actions. But he tossed aside the sentencing recommendations, saying the proposed punishment didn't reflect the nature of the crime or impact on the victim.
"You weren't just playing music too loud," said Cawthon, who presided over McGee's drunken driving case last year. "Whatever this is, it's sexual in nature."
Last May, McGee, was arrested after police said he took an SUV attached to a cargo trailer from the home of a stranger, got it stuck in a yard just down the street, and caused several thousand dollars in damage before falling asleep inside the vehicle.
Cawthon recalled how contrite McGee had been during his July 2011 sentencing in that case, and how he told the court his actions had been inconsistent with his beliefs. At the time, Cawthon recounted how McGee choked back tears when detailing how he was going to take responsibility for his actions and do better.
"You talked about what lessons you were going to teach your children because of what happened," Cawthon said Tuesday, adding that he was "floored" to see McGee back in court. "And then seven months later, I get this. I've got you committing another crime."
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