A man charged with sexually abusing half a dozen young girls was sentenced to serve one to 15 years in prison - despite pleas and recommendations that he be placed in a residential treatment program.
Richard W. Jones, 45, was ordered to begin serving his sentence at the Utah State Prison immediately. Jones, who was charged with 14 felony counts involving sexual abuse, pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual abuse of a child last July as part of a plea bargain with the county attorney's office.Earlier this month, defense attorney Jerome Mooney argued that Jones was led to believe he would receive probation when he agreed to the plea bargain.
"We believe the state . . . has obligated the court to issue probation," Mooney told 3rd District Judge Timothy Hanson.
Although prosecutors did recommend probation as long as Jones received treatment in a lock-up facility, Hanson said he made it very clear he was under no obligation to follow anyone's recommendation.
Mooney said he still believes prosecutors "dangled false hope" at Jones when they discussed the possibility of probation and said he will likely appeal the sentence.
Prosecutor Tom Vuyk said he, too, made it clear that the judge would give Jones whatever sentence he felt was just and said Jones' belief that he was guaranteed probation is "a fluke in his own mind."
The Probation Department apparently told Hanson that Jones was "one of the worst offenders they had ever seen" and recommended prison instead of probation, Vuyk said.
The judge apparently agreed and sentenced Jones to prison, saying society needs to be protected. Hanson also ordered Jones to pay a $5,000 fine and restitution for the victims' counseling.
Jones pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl on Dec. 8, 1989. He submitted a statement in which he described how he took indecent sexual liberties with the girl and wrote, "My fantasy had been fulfilled."
Young girls have reported that Jones took indecent liberties with them as far back as 1983. In some cases, young girls were provided with candy bars and pretty dresses, police reports and charges state.
He was also charged with abusing and photographing other girls in his Salt Lake home, and abusing girls while they attended a science school he ran for children, according to court documents and police reports.
"I have a feeling he's going to be there (in prison) for a long time," Vuyk said.
In a previous hearing, Dr. Victor Cline said Jones was "very clearly a sexual addict" and said the probability was very high that he will repeat the offenses unless he receives appropriate therapy.
"Although punishment may be necessary, it doesn't solve the problem," he said.