Idaho Falls man sentenced to rider for sexual abuse of 9-year-old girl
IDAHO FALLS — A man was sentenced to a retained jurisdiction program after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 9-year-old girl.
Findlay Jenkins, 68, of Idaho Falls, was first questioned by the Bonneville County Sheriff’s Office in June 2017 after it received reports he had inappropriately touched the girl on several occasions. Jenkins was charged in December with sexual abuse of a minor under 16 and eventually pleaded guilty.
According to the sheriff’s office report, the victim told her mother and the police that Jenkins had touched her under her clothing on five or six occasions and that many of the incidents had started as tickling.
At Monday’s sentencing hearing, both counsels and the judge thanked Jenkins for confessing to the charges and cooperating with the police during the investigation, which prevented the victim from having to testify in court at any point during the case.
“Were that confession not to happen, this case takes on a much different look and a much different tone,” county Prosecutor Daniel Clark said during the hearing.
Retained jurisdiction is where the defendant serves a short prison term while completing certain programs to help rehabilitate themselves. After completing the program and serving up to a year in jail, the court could choose to give the defendant probation instead of finishing their sentence. Judge Dane Watkins declared that the potential jail time that Jenkins faced was four years of fixed prison time with the potential for 16 more.
“What I’m asking for is more time and more information before I am prepared to release you into the community. I expect you to do well if you maintain the same approach that you have when cooperating with law enforcement,” Watkins said.
During the sentencing, Jenkins said he was ashamed of what he had done and that he would accept whatever sentence the court issued in his case.
Jenkins originally agreed to a plea deal that included a prison sentence, but he and his defense attorney eventually decided to request probation in court. Defense attorney Curtis Smith argued that his client’s cooperation with the police and the lesser number of incidents and victims compared to other abuse cases made him a candidate for probation.
Clark and the state responded that no case involving the sexual abuse of a child should result in a sentence without some amount of prison time. They also claimed that some of the incidents appeared to be premeditated and could have been grooming behavior for more severe abuse in the future.
The court also discussed the upcoming deportation trial for Jenkins, a permanent resident of the United States but a New Zealand citizen. He will be held in prison next year during his deportation hearings regardless of the sentence given during this case.