A Kalispell man was given a 10-year suspended sentence to the Montana State Prison more than a year after he was arrested in a sex sting that nabbed six local men.
Benjamin David Emrich appeared in Flathead County District Court on Aug. 27.
Earlier this year, Emrich entered an Alford plea to the charge of sexual assault of children. An Alford plea is filed when the defendant believes they are innocent but acknowledges that prosecution has enough evidence to find them guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
According to court documents and statements made at his sentencing hearing, Emrich posted a sexually suggestive ad online in August 2014. An undercover officer posing as a teenage girl responded to the ad but said she was “too young” for Emrich. The man agreed at first but later reached out to her via email and started talking about sex.
Emrich and the undercover officer posing as a young girl agreed to meet and the 32-year-old drove to an address the girl had given. Emrich allegedly drove past the home and then started to drive away when he was pulled over by police and arrested.
Attorney Tim Baldwin argued that police had entrapped Emrich and that Emrich should be given a six-year deferred sentence. However, Deputy County Attorney Travis Ahner said that Emrich is the one who requested photos of the young girl and used sexually explicit language.
Judge Robert Allison sided with the prosecution and handed down a 10-year suspended sentence. Emrich will also have to undergo treatment and register as a Level I sex offender.
Emrich is the second of six men arrested in the Kalispell area last summer to be sentenced. Earlier this summer, Joshua Frederick Naethe was sentenced to 15 years at the Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended for sexual assault of children.
Two of the men – Justin Allen Zeiss and Paul Christopher Adams – are expected to go to trial later this year. Karl Cilroy Wortley and Daniel Anthony Hall have both accepted plea deals and are expected to be sentenced later this fall.
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