BOUNTIFUL -- A former employee of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was sentenced to jail instead of prison on Friday on charges of child sex abuse.
Timothy Bothell, 43, of Centerville, pleaded guilty in December to one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child, a first-degree felony; and one count of lewdness involving a child, a class A misdemeanor. He was originally charged with two first-degree felony counts of aggravated sexual abuse of a child and four counts of Class A misdemeanor charges of lewdness involving a child.
The plea deal was made so the girls, sisters ages 11 and 13 at the time of the abuse, would not have to testify, attorneys said.
Adult Probation & Parole had recommended that Bothell serve three years to life in the Utah State Prison.
Second District Judge Glen C. Dawson instead opted to sentence Bothell to two years in the Davis County Jail.
Dawson said he struggled with the case and weighed both sides before imposing a sentence.
A Feb. 22 memo from AP&P said the agency stands by its recommendation in the presentence report filed on Jan. 29 and will not change it. The presentence report is not public.
"These are horrible acts, there is no two ways about it," Dawson said.
Dawson agreed to let Bothell report to the jail at noon on March 8, instead of taking him into custody after Friday's hearing.
"I usually allow up to one week (after the sentencing hearing) for you to report," Dawson said, giving Bothell and his attorney time to discuss privately in court when Bothell would report to jail.
Bothell appeared in 2nd District Court in Bountiful for a special setting sentencing hearing in a courtroom filled with family, friends and former coworkers.
Dawson also sentenced Bothell to serve five years probation, telling him if he violates his probation or commits another crime he would serve three years to life at the prison.
Bothell was allowed after the hearing to leave the courtroom out a back door, instead of leaving with his attorney, family and friends through the front public entrance where TV cameras and reporters were waiting.
Deputy Davis County Attorney Cristina Ortega said in court she agrees with the presentence report that Bothell should serve prison time. However, Ortega said it was a difficult case for her because it was different from other child sex abuse cases. In part, Ortega said, that was because of the number of letters of support sent by Bothell's family, friends, neighbors and former coworkers.
"They came from all over the community," she said after the hearing.
Bothell also seemed to go above and beyond what defendants normally do after they get arrested. Ortega said that included his paying for therapy for the victims as well as raising funds to help pay for therapy for other victims of sex abuse.
"I'm grateful (the victims) saw me get arrested," Bothell said at the hearing.
Bothell said the girls need to know what he did was inappropriate and not their fault.
"This behavior is repulsive and it's horrible," Bothell said.
Dawson asked Bothell if pornography played a role in the abuse, as he said it does in 99 percent of the child sex abuse cases he sees.
Bothell told the judge he did not have a problem with pornography, but was aware at the time of his actions they were wrong.
The victims' father chose not to attend the sentencing hearing, Ortega said. The victims' mother died in February from a heart attack, said defense attorney Bruce Larsen.
Bothell originally was scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 29. That was changed to Feb. 26, in Farmington, according to the court docket.
Dawson said in the hearing Friday that he changed the date, time and location of the sentencing hearing so he could focus on the case without 30 other cases on the calendar.
Bothell was terminated by the church missionary department when charges were filed in August and was relieved of his position in a Centerville LDS Church stake high council at the time of his arrest.
Larsen said when Bothell was confronted by his wife about the child sex abuse in August, he admitted to it. Bothell then told the girls' parents about the abuse. They contacted police.
Bothell admitted to police what he did and was immediately booked in jail. After Bothell was released from jail on a $25,000 bail, he entered into treatment, eight hours a day, five days a week from September until December, Larsen said.