Friday, July 1, 2011

Man gets 12 years in sex-abuse case

Leo Schofield to spend 4 years behind bars before parole eligibility


Leo Robert Schofield Sr., a 69-year-old Bellevue man, was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier to sexually abusing a child family member. Photo by David N. Seelig

A 69-year-old Bellevue man was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after pleading guilty earlier to sexually abusing a child family member.

Leo Robert Schofield Sr. will be required to spend four years in prison before parole eligibility. He was given credit for eight months spent in jail following his arrest in November 2010.

Sentence was pronounced by 5th District Court Judge Robert J. Elgee, who followed a joint recommendation from the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney's Office and the Roark Law Firm, which was assigned as public defender.

In a type of plea agreement referred to as an "Alford plea," Schofield pleaded guilty in April to sexual abuse of a child under 16, a crime punishable in Idaho by up to 25 years in prison. He was originally charged with a more serious crime of lewd conduct with a minor child, an offense punishable by up to life prison.

Under the Alford plea, Schofield did not admit to committing a crime, but acknowledged that there was likely sufficient evidence for a conviction. The plea agreement further specified that if Elgee did not follow the joint sentencing recommendation, the guilty plea could be withdrawn.

Schofield was charged with committing the sex crime against the child sometime between 2006 and 2009. Court records identify the girl as a family member.

< At sentencing, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback said Schofield deserves to go to prison because he has a "high risk to re-offend" and a "long history of denial."

Fredback noted that Schofield has a 1987 felony conviction in Rhode Island for sex acts against a 9-year-old child and is currently wanted in Massachusetts on a warrant charging him with a sex crime there.

"I think he deserves prison to protect people," Fredback said. "Mr. Schofield does have a history of sex-abuse crimes."

Defense attorney Douglas Nelson said his law partner, Keith Roark, tried to convince Schofield not to plead guilty, telling him that he could likely win if the case went to trial. Nelson said Schofield told Roark that "I'm not going to let you attack the little girl, I'm not going to let you attack my daughter."

"I know what I did and I know what I didn't do," Schofield told the court. "I didn't do that, but somehow I'm accepting guilt for it."

Even though he never admitted to the crime, Elgee told Schofield, he was going to treat him as guilty because he pleaded guilty.

The conviction requires that Schofield register as a sex offender.

Fredback said in an interview after the hearing that the state of Massachusetts has not yet attempted to have Schofield extradited.

Terry Smith: tsmith@mtexpress




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