Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Photographer gets 10 months in jail

Honeysett sentenced for sex with teenage sisters

Express Staff Writer

Christopher Honeysett

A professional photographer from San Francisco was sentenced to 10 months in jail Monday for a sexual encounter in 2007 with two underage sisters in Ketchum.

Christopher Scott Honeysett, a 43-year-old artistic photographer, faced sentencing after pleading guilty in July to a single felony count of sexual abuse of a minor child under 16. He was originally charged with two counts of lewd conduct with a minor child, an offense punishable in Idaho by up to life in prison.

"Mr. Honeysett, I have to say you're a lucky guy," 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee told the defendant. "You have a wife that has stood by you and an attorney that may have saved you from the penitentiary."

The case against Honeysett stems from a sexual encounter on Aug. 9, 2007, with the sisters, ages 14 and 15, on the roof of the Jones Building in downtown Ketchum. Honeysett was in the Wood River Valley at the time displaying his photographs at the Sun Valley Center Arts and Crafts Festival.

Honeysett admitted in July to having "inappropriate sexual contact" with the girls involving some "light genital touching under clothing."

Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Jim Thomas said he accepted a plea agreement with Honeysett so that "these two girls did not have to get up on the stand and suffer the indignation of testifying in public." He described the offense against the girls as "poisonous on the family."

"It's been kind of a living nightmare for them," Thomas said. "We have two bright young girls who got caught up emotionally in this 42-year-old man's fantasies. This is something these two girls are going to have to deal with for a long time. I think only time and counseling will help them."

Defense attorney Andrew Parnes told the court that Honeysett likewise "did not want the girls to have to testify." He said his client has also suffered from the crime, but is remorseful and has admitted his guilt.

"Because of the Internet, word went out in the art community and there were people who did not want him at their shows," Parnes said.

"He has been in counseling and therapy for this for the past year," Parnes said. "He is going to be punished for the rest of his life. This happened—he's struggling with why it happened."

"I do take full responsibility for my actions and I'm extremely remorseful for the pain that I've caused," Honeysett told the court. "I have been concerned that the incident has left an indelible impact on the family."

Parnes asked for a withheld judgment but Elgee rejected the argument.

"It should appear as a conviction and that's what I'm going to do," the judge said. "A withheld judgment would allow you to cover this up to a certain extent."

Elgee also sentenced Honeysett to a 10-year suspended prison sentence and ordered 10 years probation. He further fined Honeysett $1,500, ordered a $5,000 payment to the victims and ordered unspecified restitution to the family. Further, Honeysett was ordered to attend a "sexual offender treatment program" and to register as a sex offender.

"It is just punishment," Elgee said. "It is retribution. You're lucky it's just 10 months in the county jail."

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