Monday, 20 May 2013

"A signal to the community of pornographers you were a part of that this community won't tolerate you"

Leslie Peter Bowcut of Burley, Idaho operated and produced photographs for the child modeling agency known as "Paul Jones Photography." Bowcut operated this child modeling agency up until he was arrested and charged for a number of child sexual abuse related offenses:
Judge hands pedophile 30 years to life
By Shelley Ridenour
Times-News writer

Peter Bowcut listens to his prison sentence Tuesday in a Burley courtroom before collapsing while leaving the room.

BURLEY Leslie Peter Bowcut collapsed to the floor Tuesday evening after he was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years in prison.

Fifth District Judge Roger Burdick sentenced Bowcut on the third day of a sentencing hearing in Cassia County. Burdick ordered Bowcut to the Idaho state prison for a term of 30 years to life. The determinate -- or mandatory -- portion of the sentence is 30 years, and the remainder is indeterminate, Burdick said. Whether Bowcut serves any of the indeterminate sentence will be decided later by corrections department authorities.

Bowcut fell when sheriff's office authorities began leading him out of the courtroom. His parents and other family members rushed to stand in front of newspaper and television photographers, preventing them from photographing the scene.
Sheriff's officers picked Bowcut up, put him in a courtroom chair which had wheels and pushed him out of the courtroom. He did walk out of the courthouse with his sheriff's office escorts a few moments later.

The case for 30 to life

The courtroom was nearly full for the four-hour proceeding Tuesday. Some 62 people were in the audience when Burdick handed down the sentence. Burdick spent nearly an hour in chambers making his decision after all the testimony was presented.

The judge said the "frenzy" surrounding the Bowcut case was unprecedented in the 20-plus years he's sat on the bench.

"I've been at a loss to why," he said, speculating it may be the "newness" of a child molestation case to the community and the nature of the sexual photographs which Bowcut took of the children, which made his abuse so clear.

Yet, Burdick reminded those at the hearing, sentences aren't issued "on the basis of popularity polls or community reaction." The public must see the sentencing process, he said, and "must believe the sentence was justly imposed," or there will be a loss of faith and respect in the court system.

Burdick pointed out to Bowcut that he minimized his conduct "until, frankly, there was no escape." Bowcut repeatedly told investigators, family members, doctors and therapists that the children he abused and photographed were asleep at the time. Evidence has shown that not to be the case. Burdick discounted Bowcut's remarks that there had been no injury to the souls of the victims.

The judge said he's seen thousands of people who were abused as children in his courtroom and they "continually search their tormented souls."

The judge wasn't surprised by the dichotomy Bowcut exhibited. Sex offenders routinely put on the good side as good community members, youth leaders or parents while abusing victims at the same time, Burdick said.

"You lived that dichotomy for a short time," Burdick said to Bowcut. "Thank God you were caught early."

Burdick recognized that Bowcut showed remorse for his crimes. The judge pointed out that Burdick is "working compulsively at rehabilitation" -- as he worked compulsively on the problems which led him into court.

Burdick said he thinks Bowcut is a candidate for treatment, "Although you'll always be attracted to children."

When citing aggravating circumstances, Burdick referred to the underlying profit motive Bowcut had for taking sexual photos of his victims and then selling them on the Internet. His Web site generated between $7,000 and $10,000 a month in profit, according to earlier court testimony.

The other side of Bowcut's photography business seemed to trouble Burdick, too. Bowcut photographed girls, under the guise of clothing models for advertising purposes, and then posted those images online where people who found such photos stimulating could view those non-pornographic images.

"You were truly stalking to the depths of depravity on these unknowing girls," Burdick said.

Even though Bowcut has no criminal history, the judge said the offenses Bowcut was charged with were "enormous" crimes, and his abuse of young victims "mandates a severe sentence."

Burdick said the minimum of 30 years in prison "is a signal to the community of pornographers you were a part of that this community won't tolerate you."

Probation or incarceration?

Cassia County Prosecuting Attorney Al Barrus had recommended to the judge a sentence of life on each count with no parole before Bowcut served 35 years. After the sentencing, Barrus said the judge's sentence was "appropriate."

When recommending a sentence to Burdick, Barrus said "anything less than a long-term prison sentence sends a message his crime wasn't all that serious."

Barrus shared a statement from one of the victims.

The girl said Bowcut "took a picture of my private spot in front," when she was naked.

"He didn't show it to nobody, nobody, nobody, nobody. He's gonna get mad. I just forgot about it. But today I couldn't forget."

Barrus said in all his years of prosecuting, Bowcut's offenses were the "most heinous and atrocious."

When delivering his closing statement, Barrus said all the professionals who met with Bowcut say he's at least at medium risk of reoffending if he completes a treatment program.

But Barrus said, "When it comes to the protection of little children, any risk is unacceptable."

Barrus voiced concern about the incorrect or incomplete information Bowcut shared with therapists and psychologists prior to his evaluations and treatment. Bowcut "appears to tell a different story depending on who's listening," Barrus said.

Barrus continued to dispute Bowcut's claim that the victims were often asleep when he abused them and they didn't know or understand what was going on. Photos clearly show the girls are "awake, aware and horrified."

In addition, Barrus said Bowcut's claim that he didn't use force to get the victims into the settings he photographed them in wasn't pertinent. "The children were compelled by him. Force doesn't have to be present.

"By his own admission he's a pedophile," Barrus said. "He embraced being a pedophile and encouraged others to be a pedophile."

Bowcut's attorney Steven Richert asked the court to "hand down a fair, just sentence."

He reminded Burdick that the doctors and therapists who testified in court all think Bowcut is treatable.

Richert pointed out that since Bowcut was arrested he has sought assistance. "He wants to be helped."

Sending Bowcut to prison for a long time will prevent Bowcut from getting the appropriate treatment because the Idaho prison system doesn't have much in the way of sex offender treatment, Richert said.

Richert referred to the federal charges Bowcut faces and suggested the judge put Bowcut on the state's retained jurisdiction program for 180 days until the federal government conducts court proceedings related to that charge, then the judge could set a penalty for Bowcut. Richert stopped short of asking for no prison time, but he did ask that any jail time "be limited."

Words from Bowcut, his family

When Bowcut went to the podium to address the judge, sheriff's officers removed his ankle and wrist shackles. Three officers stood between Bowcut and the audience during his allocution.

Bowcut apologized for his actions and took full responsibility "for all the pain I have caused." He has no explanation for why it happened.

He said the situation has been a "horrible experience for me," but he also said he wants to change and "get better."

Bowcut placed blame on no one but himself "and the stupid choices I made."

Ann Harper made a statement on behalf of the victims. She is Bowcut's mother-in-law.

She said Bowcut took "beautiful things" -- the victims -- and "made them ugly."

Harper shared part of a letter from another of her daughters. That woman referred to Bowcut as "every parent's worse nightmare."

Even though Harper tried to protect her family from evil, when her daughter Esther married Bowcut, "The devil insidiously slipped into our midst," she said.

Because of Bowcut's actions, Esther Bowcut has had to move away from her home and family and her family support, Harper said.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.