Judge Robert J. Elgee on Monday declined to change the sentence of a 19-year-old Blaine County man who is in prison for raping two 14-year-old girls in late 2012.
Elgee made his ruling regarding Mark Allen Karlovich at the conclusion of an hour-and-45-minute hearing in Blaine County 5th District Court. The hearing was held because of a motion filed by defense attorney Douglas Nelson, wherein Nelson was seeking reconsideration of the sentence.
That motion was filed in accord with Idaho Criminal Rule 35, a rule that allows a defendant to request that a judge reduce a sentence earlier imposed.
Karlovich, sentenced in June after pleading guilty to a single count of rape in March, is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence at Idaho State Correctional Institution Unit 24 in Boise. He is not eligible for parole consideration until Sept. 10, 2015.
Karlovich was not present at Monday’s hearing.
Nelson argued that the sentence was harsher than Elgee usually gives for rape cases involving adults and underage girls and that Karlovich should be placed in the Idaho Department of Correction “rider program” where convicted felons are given an opportunity for rehabilitation.
“In this case, some say the sentence should have been much more severe.”
Robert J. Elgee
He further argued that Karlovich was only 18 when the crimes occurred and that the age difference was not that great. He also presented the judge with a petition signed by some 140 people requesting that the judge reconsider the sentence.
However, both of the victims testified during the hearing that they continue to suffer from what Karlovich did to them.
“I cannot fully explain the hardship I’ve gone through because of Mark Karlovich,” one of the girls said. “Mark Karlovich has taken from me my ability to enjoy my life.”
“I try not to let it get to me, but it’s been going on for too long,” said the other girl. “Will we ever forget this?”
Karlovich earlier admitted to having sexual intercourse with both of the girls, but he said it was consensual. However, both victims have said they were forced.
Consensual or not, Idaho law defines sexual intercourse by an adult with an underage victim as rape.
About 50 people attended the hearing, the majority of them family and friends of the girls. A smaller group of Karlovich family members and supporters sat in a separate area of the courtroom.
Karlovich’s mother also testified. She said Karlovich is trying to complete his high school education in prison and is working in the prison bakery. She said he now understands that what he did was wrong and would like an opportunity for rehabilitation.
She also suggested that the girls were not truthful about what happened, a statement that brought a sharp rebuke from the mother of one of the victims when she took the stand.
“You are perpetuating the rape culture by calling my daughter a liar,” the mother said. “He raped not only one girl, but two. My daughter’s still trying to move on but her nightmare continues to haunt her.”
The father of one if the victims testified that having to go to court again just caused new stress for his daughter.
“I don’t even know why we’re here again,” the father said. “To have my daughter go through this again—it’s not helping her get better at all.”
Regarding the petition filed in support of Karlovich, the father said: “I don’t know that they knew what they were signing.”
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback argued that the court should take into consideration the victims of Karlovich in ruling on the defense motion.
“We can’t give them back what they lost,” Fredback said. “This case is not just about Mr. Karlovich. He committed two offenses in a short time. To remove him from prison right now doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
In making his ruling, Elgee said rehabilitation is a factor in sentencing but punishment is as well. He further said that each rape case before the court is different and has to be considered on its own.
“There were two girls, not one,” Elgee said. “In this case, some say the sentence should have been much more severe.”
Terry Smith: firstname.lastname@example.org