A man convicted of raping a 14-year-old paraplegic girl, and who was the center of controversy earlier this month when it was discovered he had been released from jail to attend a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, was sentenced to a term of five years to life in the Utah State Prison on Friday.
In sentencing Roy W. Hall, 3rd District Judge Homer Wilkinson said he recognized that this was an unusual case because of the victim's condition and the fact that Hall is slightly mentally retarded. He said, however, the seriousness of the crime could not be minimized and there was no question that punishment was in order."Not at any time have I been swayed or seriously considered not imposing a prison sentence," Wilkinson said. "Any person committing a crime of this sort should receive some serious punishment."
Wilkinson said he has serious reservations about Hall's safety at the prison, but said that is a situation that will have to be addressed by prison officials. He did order that the prison consider putting Hall in a sex offender or alcoholism and drug abuse program.
Defense attorney Nancy Bergeson asked that Hall be sent to the prison for a 90-day psychiatric evaluation before formal sentencing. She argued that such an evaluation was the least the state should do in light of Hall's mental limitations.
Wilkinson said such an action would be appropriate only if he felt there were some reason such an evaluation would change his decision and he did not see that as likely. Wilkinson, who denied a defense motion to close the hearing because of media pressure and publicity, said he felt no pressure from the media and that his actions were based on his feelings as the trial judge and from having read a pre-sentencing report from the state Adult Probation and Parole Division.
Hall was convicted Oct. 13 in connection with the rape. The victim is a paraplegic who suffers from multiple sclerosis and who is confined to a wheelchair and can only talk with the assistance of a mechanical voice box.
On Oct. 21, Wilkinson approved Hall's release to the Indian Alcoholism Counseling and Recovery House, a residential treatment program, after being assured that Hall would not be free to roam the streets. Hall actually enrolled in the Salvation Army's residential program.
Bergeson said the Salvation Army program was the intended program from the start and that when she realized the error, she went to Wilkinson's clerk and had the order amended. The change was made without Wilkinson's knowledge. He later chastised the attorney and clerk in open court, calling the action unethical on the part of Bergeson.
The controversy arose when family members of the victim saw Hall walking into the courthouse and realized he was not in custody. They contacted local news media which publicized the situation. Wilkinson was critical of the news events when he ordered Hall back into custody two weeks ago.
Wilkinson made no reference to the news accounts at Friday's sentencing except to say that his decision was not influenced in any way by the media accounts.