Casper Man Gets 15-20 Years for ‘Grooming,’ Sexual Abuse of Young Girl
A Casper man is headed to prison after admitting in March to sexually abusing his friend's daughter, who was 12 years old when the abuse began.
Natrona County District Court Judge Thomas Sullins on Friday sentenced 35-year-old Forest Vincent Price to two concurrent 15- to 20-year prison sentences. Price previously pleaded guilty to two charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor as part of a plea deal.
"This man took advantage of his best friend and his best friend's daughter," Assistant District Attorney Brett Johnson told the court at Friday's hearing. He explained that Price made the victim feel "special" and "groomed her" to perform sex acts, even convincing her that they would have a legitimate relationship when the victim was of legal age.
The victim told the detective she broke off the "relationship" with Price because he was married and was going to have another baby.
At Friday's sentencing hearing, Price's wife told Sullins she needs Price at home to help care for their two children, a seven-year-old boy and a one-year-old girl.
"A big part of this ending was Mrs. Price," Johnson added. "I think Mr. Price deserves the sentence that has been recommended."
Six other charges against Price were dismissed as part of the plea agreement. He will receive 346 days credit against the prison sentences for the time he has spent incarcerated in the Natrona County Detention Center.
Sullins also ordered him to pay $350 in restitution to the Wyoming Division of Victim Services and included a recommendation for Price to be placed in the Intensive Treatment Unit, though defense attorney Robert Oldham said he was unsure whether Price's substance abuse played any role in the case.
The writer of the presentence investigation report recommended Price complete a level 3.5 treatment program.
Oldham said he believed the sentence to be appropriate, referring to statements by private citizens who Oldham says are under the impression that courts do not impose adequate sentences for sex offenders, particularly those who abuse children.
"I find the sentence to be anything but lenient," Oldham continued.
In this case, as in similar criminal matters, Oldham said one "major consideration" in arranging a plea agreement -- rather than taking the case to trial and pursuing the maximum sentence allowed by statute -- is keeping the victim from having to testify in open court. Such experiences often retraumatize victims of sexual assault.
Price in August pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness to three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and five counts of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
"I'd just like to get some help," Price said before he was sentenced Friday.
Court documents say in October 2015, a Casper police detective began investigating alleged sexual assaults reported in Glenrock and Casper.
The victim reportedly said her first sexual encounter with Price -- her father's roommate -- was in June 2013. She was 12 years old at the time.
According to charging papers, further sex acts occurred in March and June 2015.
Sullins pointed to Price's criminal record and the seriousness of the crimes in this case in his decision that Price was not a candidate for probation. He also considered deterrence, rehabilitation and punishment.
The inexcusable harm to the victim, Sullins said, was a chief concern in imposing the prison sentence.