News & Features

First Sex Sting Suspect Sentenced

One of six Flathead County men arrested in a 2014 sex sting is sentenced to prison

A Flathead County man will spend the next four years at the Montana State Prison after pleading guilty to sexual assault of children.

Joshua Frederick Naethe, 35, was sentenced in Flathead County District Court on July 2, nearly a year after he was arrested in a sex sting operation by local law enforcement. Naethe was one of six local men arrested during the August 2014 sting run by the Montana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

According to court documents, Naethe responded to an online posting advertising sex with an underage girl.

Naethe responded to the ad via email and said that he wanted to assist the girl in “how to become a (woman).” Naethe was given an address where he could meet the 12-year-old girl and on his way there he stopped at a store and purchased condoms. When he arrived at the residence he was confronted by officers and admitted that he had traveled there to have sex with the girl.

Naethe initially pleaded not guilty at an arraignment in September 2014. In April of this year, he signed a plea agreement that he would plead guilty to the charge of felony sexual assault of children in return for a 15-year sentence to the Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended. He will be given credit for time served, which comes out to be 319 days.

Naethe is the first of the six men who were nabbed in the sex sting to be sentenced. Two of the men – Justin Allen Zeiss, 35, and Paul Christopher Adams, 38 – are expected to go to trial later this year. Three other men have all signed plea agreements and will be sentenced in August.

Benjamin David Emrich, 33, changed his plea to Alford earlier this year and will be sentenced on Aug. 27. An Alford plea is filed when a defendant believes they are innocent but acknowledges that the prosecution has enough evidence to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In the plea agreement, it states that prosecutors will recommend a 10-year suspended sentence to prison. The defense will recommend a six-year deferred sentence.

Karl Cilroy Wortley, 35, pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of children earlier this spring. Depending on a mental health evaluation, prosecutors will recommend a 15-year sentence to the state prison with 10 years suspended if Wortley is found to be a tier-1 sex offender. If he is found to be a tier-2 sex offender, prosecutors will recommend a 20-year sentence to the prison with 13 years suspended.

Daniel Anthony Hall, 34, is expected to appear in court on Aug. 20. In June, he signed a plea agreement where he would plead Alford to sexual assault of children in return for a joint recommendation of 15 years to the state prison with all of it suspended.