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Man sentenced for molesting 5-year-old possibly 100 times

Tommy Lee Morgan during sentencing on Tuesday. | Kaitlyn Hart,
IDAHO FALLS – A 72-year-old man was sent to prison on Tuesday for molesting a 5-year-old relative possibly 100 times.
Tommy Lee Morgan was sentenced to a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 30 years in prison by District Judge Dane Watkins Jr.
Morgan initially pleaded not guilty to five counts of felony lewd conduct with a child under 16. He later signed a plea agreement in which he agreed to plead guilty to one of those counts in exchange for the prosecution dropping the rest.
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Before sentencing started, Morgan attempted to address the court by trying to describe the abuse, saying he was only trying to “smooth down the skin” in front of the victim’s waistband as his mother had done to him and his sister with the back of her bra strap when he was a child.
Watkins told Morgan to save his comments for the end of the sentencing when he would be allowed an opportunity to speak.
During the sentencing, Bonneville County Prosecutor Randy Neal recommended a minimum of six years and a maximum of life in prison, saying Morgan had failed to take responsibility for the trauma he caused the victim and her family.
“I don’t think he has any grasp on the effect and the consequence,” said Neal. “I can’t even begin to understand the devastating effect this has had on this family. But it certainly cannot be mitigated by the dishonest, inconsistent and unreasonable claims that this defendant has made about this case.”
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Morgan’s defense attorney, Shawn Anderson, argued that because of Morgan’s age and lack of prior criminal history, he should only be given a minimum of 2 to 4 years in prison and an indeterminate maximum amount of time, but also that the judge should retain that jurisdiction.
“He has expressed remorse about this and continues to,” said Anderson. “And I think if he was given the right counseling, he could come to grips with expressing even more.”
The victim’s mother stood in front of the court, pleading for Watkins to give her family a sense of justice and addressing Morgan directly.
“We were groomed by a man we all adored. He came into our lives over 20 years ago and promised to be our sanctuary. We thought he was a safe place but instead, he molested one of the most innocent and vulnerable members of our family. He willingly abused a baby we all trusted him to protect,” said the victim’s mother. “In February of 2021, she came to me and said, ‘Sometimes when Papa tickles me, he hurts me and touches me where I don’t want him to.’ The next day, (the victim’s) grandmother and I reported him to the police.”
The victim’s mother then turned to look at Morgan as she stated, “The wake of your sinking ship will be felt for generations. I hope the wreckage is never found. This is your legacy.”
Morgan then spoke to the court, denying the claims that he has not taken responsibility and apologizing for the circumstances.
“I do accept that I take full responsibility for what I’ve done. I don’t try to blame her for anything. She is not at fault for anything, and she should not be embarrassed or ashamed for anything that happened because it was all my fault,” said Morgan. “I know I’d never do it again. The question is do you guys believe me? I will never do it again. I do realize the seriousness of it, I might not communicate it through my writing and stuff, but I know I’d never do it again, and I’m deeply sorry. I can’t express that enough.”
Judge Watkins then pronounced the sentence after addressing the “ridiculous” claim that Morgan was only trying to smooth down the skin behind the waistband of the victim’s pants.
“The court, reviewing the materials in your response to the inquiry to describe your version of the events, also was striking to me,” said Watkins. “Even listening today to descriptions of a hand down pants and loosening a waistband, and that it was done to others, is ridiculous to me. And I make no sense of it.”
Watkins continued before announcing the sentence by addressing Morgan’s actions and the pain and trauma caused by him in this case.
“These cases are difficult. They’re difficult for the court as noted by counsel, they’re difficult for the attorneys, but certainly don’t compare to the trauma, pain and suffering of the victim,” said Watkins. “There is a great wincing when one is exposed to the nature of these types of cases.”
Background of the case
According to court documents, a detective with the Idaho Falls Police detective spoke with a mother and daughter, after the daughter stated that Morgan had been sexually assaulting her for the past several years in Idaho Falls.
In the report, the victim said Morgan placed his hands down her pants on multiple occasions and touched her inappropriately. On at least one occasion, this caused her pain.
The victim told the detective that Morgan had been assaulting her since she was six. During sentencing, the mother told the judge the abuse started shortly after the victim’s 5th birthday.
The detective met with Morgan, who confirmed that the allegations were true. He also admitted to additional events where he had sexual contact with the victim.
“I asked Tommy an approximate number of times he had some type of sexual contact with (the victim) over the past years. I asked if 100 times would be an appropriate number and Tommy stated, ‘Yea, it seems feasible,’” the detective wrote in an affidavit of probable cause.
The post Man sentenced for molesting 5-year-old possibly 100 times appeared first on East Idaho News.

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