The Utah Board of Pardons has told a Provo man serving his third prison term for sexually molesting children that he will stay behind bars for his entire 15-year sentence.

Friday, board members told Robert Randall Ferguson, 27, that keeping him locked up and off the streets could benefit hundreds of potential victims.Ferguson, in prison for sexual abuse of a 4-year-old boy, was first arrested for a sex crime in 1977. In 1980, he was committed to the Utah State Prison for zero-to-5 years for forcible sexual abuse. He was paroled in 1982.

In 1983, he was arrested again for forcible sexual abuse and sent back to prison. He was paroled again in 1985.

Ferguson acknowledged attempting to sexually molest 75 to 100 children since his 1985 release from prison.

Board Chairwoman Victoria Palacios called Ferguson's 11-year history of child sex crimes "disturbing.

"Given your history, can you think of one good reason why we shouldn't keep the children of the community safe and keep you here?" Palacios asked.

Ferguson argued that he needed a parole date to get into therapy programs.

"I've got to prove something to myself and to you, the board," he said. "But to just sit here (in prison) and not do anything, that's not going to help me."

"But it will help a hundred children," countered board member Paul Boyden.

Ferguson will be released from prison Dec. 10, 2002.