The following is a story written and reported by Eric Grossarth of East Idaho News:
IDAHO FALLS — A judge sentenced a visibly shaken Rexburg man to work release and probation Monday after the man admitted to offering a teenage boy money to have sex with him.
Prosecutors initially charged 27-year-old Clark Allen Poston with felony enticing a child over the internet. As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors amended the charge to felony injury to child. District Judge Dane H. Watkins Jr. sentenced Poston to 20 days of work release and eight years on probation. Watkins suspended a two to seven year prison sentence.
“Your offense is upon a child nearly half of your age,” Watkins said. “I think your attorneys pointed out there was no physical contact. Had there been, it would be a different sentence.”
Police arrested Poston in October after discovering he had offered a 15-year-old boy $100 for sex. Watkins described the actions as a bribe.
The victim said Poston would message him asking to hang out and go shopping at the mall. Poston told the teen if he went shopping with him, he would get more gifts. Poston asked the victim if he was gay and the teen said no. Poston told the boy he was gay and asked if he would go on a date, according to court documents.
“He said that Clark told him he would have to kiss him to get more clothing and on another occasion asked him if he wanted to make out,” according to court documents.
The teen told police he declined Poston’s requests and that Poston would send him nude photos, according to court documents.
“For me this has been really hard,” Poston said at his sentencing. “I’ve never done anything wrong. I guess you can say this has been a wake-up call for me…I do appreciate everyone that has helped me get through it…I’m just really sorry for everything that happened.”
Poston told Watkins he has “his struggles” and this incident helped him come to terms with his sexuality and other issues. Poston apologized to the victim and his family despite them not being in court.
“I have prayed long and hard for forgiveness from them and from everyone that has had to see me go through this,” Poston said.
Before being sentenced, Poston shared how his father spent numerous times in jail and he does not want to make those same mistakes.
“I am pretty terrified of jail,” Poston said. “I’ve only heard bad things about it.”
Defense attorney Rocky L. Wixom asked Watkins to sentence Poston to probation with the option for a withheld judgment. Wixom cited Poston’s lack of criminal history, lack of physical contact and remorse for what his client did in the request.
“Mr. Poston underwent an evaluation that shows him as being an average risk to re-offend,” Wixom said. “Mr. Poston did a day in jail…I have rarely seen someone so scared about the idea of going to jail. I think the court absolutely and completely has his full attention.”
Although Poston is not required to register as a sex offender, Watkins ordered him to participate in sex offender treatment. Probation will limit Poston’s ability to use the internet and Watkins said “no online relationships period.”
Watkins ordered Poston to complete 125 hours of community service, pay $1,000 fine and an additional 180 days of discretionary jail time. Poston was given credit for the one day he spent in jail.
“I want to focus on your rehabilitation. You have acknowledged that,” Watkins said. “I think that’s a good thing and it’s a good place to start…You have some work to do in order to be fully accountable and healthy in a way that presents no risk to the community.”