Blaine County has an exceptionally low number of registered sex offenders compared to other counties in the area with similar populations. However, sex crimes have become more prevalent in Wood River Valley in the past few years. Source: Blaine County
More than 300 registered sex offenders are living in the Magic and Wood River valleys, but only five of them have chosen to make Blaine County their place of residence. And of those five, only two were convicted of crimes in the county.
However, the number of registered sex offenders in Blaine County would triple if all the men convicted of sex crimes within the last few years lived here. Most of them are still behind bars. If not, they live elsewhere.
Since January 2007, 10 men have been convicted or sentenced to prison or jail for sex crimes in the county. During the same period, about another dozen men were charged with sex crimes but those charges were either dismissed or reduced to lesser crimes such as battery. There are three sex crime cases pending in Blaine County 5th District Court.
Nonetheless, Blaine County's number of resident registered sex offenders is far below other counties in the area with similar populations. Cassia County has 31, Minidoka County 39 and Jerome County 56.
Still, Blaine County has seen a significant increase during the past two or three years in the number of sex crime charges. Nearly all of them involve older men having sex with willing teenage girls. Whether the girl was willing or not, however, is irrelevant under Idaho law. Girls under the age of 18, and particularly under the age of 16, aren't considered capable of making rational decisions about having sex.
Sex crimes have stiff maximum penalties under Idaho law. Some of them are punishable by up to life in prison.
"I know we're seeing an increase in lewd and lascivious cases," Blaine County 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee said in an interview last August. "They're just up, with minor girls in particular. I think there's more happening and I think they're being reported more. And if I had to guess, I'd say that some of it has to do with the young ladies because they're not forced, they're not attacked."
What are the charges?
There are several dozen offenses in Idaho that can qualify a convicted person for the state's Sex Offender Registry, but the most commonly seen in Blaine County are rape, lewd conduct with a minor child under 16 and sexual abuse of a minor child under 16.
Lewd conduct with a minor child is seen as a lesser charge than rape, though either crime is punishable by up to life in prison. Lewd conduct, often referred to in court circles as "L&L," varies from rape mainly in that actual sexual intercourse is not required. Rather, L&L requires only "genital-to-genital" or "manual-to-genital" contact. Cases of illegal sexual intercourse often start out as rape cases and end up getting pleaded down to L&L.
Sexual abuse of a minor child under 16 requires that some sort of deviant behavior occurred. Typically, L&L cases ended up getting pleaded down to the lesser charge of sexual abuse, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Convicted sex offenders became required to register in 1998 when the Idaho Legislature passed the Sexual Offender Registration Notification and Community Right-to-Know Act. The law requires that convicted sex offenders register with the Idaho State Police, which is the designated custodian of the registry.
The justification for the law was spelled out by the Legislature when the law was enacted: "The Legislature finds that sexual offenders present a significant risk of reoffense and that efforts of law enforcement agencies to protect their communities, conduct investigations and quickly apprehend offenders who commit sexual offenses are impaired by the lack of current information available about individuals who have been convicted of sexual offenses who live within their jurisdiction."
Additional information, or the state Sex Offender Registry, can be found at the ISP Web site at www.isp.state.id.us.
Registered Sex Offenders
None of Blaine County's five registered sex offenders have been charged with new sex crimes since their original convictions, and only two of the five committed their crimes in Blaine County. Information on the offenders is from the state Sex Offender Registry.
Joe Eskel Mortensen, 46, was convicted in Blaine County in 1996 of sexual abuse of a minor child under 16. He now lives in Bellevue.
Jeffrey Dean Ealey, 47, was convicted in Blaine County in 1998 of lewd conduct with a minor child under 16. He now lives in Ketchum.
James Michael Allman, 52, was convicted in 1999 in Clark County, Nev., of lewdness with a child under 14 and two counts of sexual assault of a victim under 16. He now lives in Bellevue.
Roy Albert Love, 63, was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor in 1990 in Elmore County. He now lives in Bellevue.
Clive Brent Hope III is now 18 but is listed on the state's juvenile offender list. He was convicted in 2006 of first-degree child molestation in Pierce County, Wash. He now lives in Hailey.
Timothy A. Junkert, 42, Hailey, was sentenced to six to 10 years in prison in January 2007 for lewd conduct with a minor child. Junkert's crime was allowing his 2-year-old son in 2005 to fondle his aroused genitals. Junkert compound his crime by photographing the event and storing the image in his computer.
Emmanuel Bautista-Aguayo, 24, and Jose Vivar-Olivera, 24, both of Hailey, were sentenced to three to seven years each in May 2007 after pleading guilty to lewd conduct with a minor child under 16. The men confessed to picking up two girls, ages 12 and 13, in Hailey in 2006, driving them to Slaughterhouse Canyon, getting them drunk and having a sex party. Bautista-Aguayo is a U.S. citizen while Vivar-Olivera is a Mexican national who had legal residency in the U.S.
Douglas D. Cooper, 45, a Hailey man and former youth lacrosse coach, was sentenced in July 2007 to two to 15 years after pleading guilty to lewd conduct with a minor child under 16 for having a sexual relationship for three months in 2006 with a 14-year-old Hailey girl whom he had met on the Internet.
Ovidio Ricaldi-Villajuan, 25, a Peruvian citizen who was living in Hailey, was sentenced in October 2007 to three to 20 years for lewd conduct with a minor child for molesting a 4-year-old girl in Hailey in 2006.
Juan Arteaga-Ponce, 22, was a Mexican national living illegally in the U.S. He was sentenced in June 2008 to two to four years in prison after pleading guilty to L&L for having several sexual encounters in 2007 with a 14-year-old Carey girl.
Christopher Scott Honeysett, 43, a San Francisco artistic photographer, was sentenced to 10 months in jail in October 2008 after pleading guilty to sexual abuse of a minor child under 16. Honeysett admitted to sexual activities with two Ketchum girls, ages 14 and 15, in August 2007 while he was in Ketchum displaying his photographs at the Sun Valley Arts and Crafts Festival.
Rolando Juarez-Juarez, 21, a Mexican national living illegally in Hailey, was sentenced in November 2008 to three to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to L&L for having sex in May 2008 with a 13-year-old Hailey girl.
Brian Jake Adamson, 21, of Carey, was sentenced in January to six months rehabilitation with the Idaho Department of Correction after being convicted last August by an all-male jury of sexual abuse of a minor child under 16. Fifth District Court Judge Barry Wood imposed an alternative three- to 10-year prison sentence that can be imposed if rehabilitation is deemed unsuccessful. Adamson was convicted of having sex with a 13-year-old foster child who was in the care of Adamson's parents in Carey. Adamson is already listed as a registered sex offender in Twin Falls County, where he was living and going to school at College of Southern Idaho.
Blake Lee Walton, 47, who last lived in Picabo, faces sentencing on March 2 after pleading guilty in November 2008 to two counts of L&L for having sex with his 12-year-old niece. The Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office reached a plea agreement with Walton and will suggest that he be sentenced to 15 to 25 years. Walton remains incarcerated in the Blaine County Jail on $100,000 bond.
Terry Smith: email@example.com