Friday, July 25, 2008

California photographer admits to fondling teens

Honeysett pleads guilty to sexual abuse of underage sisters

Express Staff Writer

Christopher Scott Honeysett

"I had inappropriate sexual contact with minor girls," California photographer Christopher Scott Honeysett admitted Wednesday in Blaine County 5th District Court.

"I plead guilty your honor because I'm guilty," Honeysett said, referring to sexual encounters with two teenage Ketchum sisters last summer on the roof of the Jones Building in downtown Ketchum.

Honeysett, a 43-year-old San Francisco artistic photographer, entered his guilty plea to a single felony count of sexual abuse of a child under 16. The guilty plea was in accord with a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, which will recommend at sentencing that Honeysett spend a year in the county jail.

Judge Robert J. Elgee is not bound by the plea agreement and Honeysett is free to withdraw his guilty plea if sentencing exceeds Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas' recommendations. The plea agreement further states that Honeysett receive a 10-year suspended prison sentence, be placed on probation for 10 years, complete a sexual offender treatment program and pay at least $6,500 in fines and restitution.

Thomas told the court that he has discussed the plea agreement with the victims' family.

"I think they are willing to go along with it," he said.

Elgee advised Honeysett that the crime is punishable in Idaho by up to 25 years in prison.

Defense attorney Andrew Parnes told the court that the plea agreement allows Honeysett to argue for a lesser sentence than the recommendation of the prosecuting attorney.

Sentencing was scheduled for 9 a.m. on Sept 29.

Honeysett was originally charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16, a crime punishable in Idaho by up to life in prison.

Honeysett admitted that he had "inappropriate sexual contact" involving "some light genital touching under clothing" with the girls, ages 14 and 15, on the evening of Aug. 9, 2007 in Ketchum. Honeysett was in Ketchum at that time displaying his works at the Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival. Court records state that the girls were volunteers at the festival and were assigned to assist Honeysett at his booth.

Court records further state that the parents of the girls contacted Ketchum police later that evening after the girls returned home and confessed to what happened. Honeysett was arrested shortly after midnight on Aug. 10. He posted $100,000 bail later than day and has been free from custody since.

"I've been seeing a therapist because of this case," Honeysett further told the court.

Honeysett's wife sat quietly throughout the hearing. A tearful Honeysett hugged and kissed her at the conclusion of the hearing.

The Honeysett case was investigated by former Ketchum Detective Ken Martinez, who resigned under pressure in May after allegations surfaced that he mishandled evidence in the Deborah A. Reimer second-degree attempted murder case. Evidence mishandling in the Reimer case, which led to dismissal of the charge, is still being investigated by the Idaho Attorney General's Office.

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