WALLA WALLA — A 23-year-old area man was sentenced Monday afternoon in Superior Court to four years in prison for having sexual contact last fall with a 13-year-old girl he had just met.
Judge Pro Tem Mike Mitchell ordered Joseph W. Starr to serve the high end of the three- to four-year prison term he faced under the state’s standard-range sentencing laws.
Mitchell gave Starr credit for the 104 days he’s already spent in jail since his arrest Feb. 8, and placed him on community custody, a form of probation, for three years following his release from prison.
He also will have to register as a sex offender.
Starr’s attorney, Robin Olson, told Mitchell before the sentence was imposed that Starr agreed to serve the high end, which was recommended by Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Mulhern.
Olson said Starr “has not been shown any boundaries” with drugs, alcohol or relationships and will seek treatment in prison.
“Hopefully Mr. Starr will not blow the opportunity to make something of himself when he comes back into society,” Olson said.
But Mulhern pointed out that Starr has been given a chance by the criminal justice system. He previously served a 15-month prison stint for second-degree child molestation after he failed to comply with an outpatient treatment program in that case.
“It didn’t take long (for him) to reoffend,” she said.
Department of Corrections Community Corrections Officer Alison Smith wrote in her presentence investigation that Starr claims he was drunk the night of last fall’s crime and doesn’t remember anything about the actual offense.
“He continues to show little or no insight into his choices, behavior and consequences, nor consideration for the victims of his crimes,” Smith added.
Starr pleaded guilty April 8 to the charge of indecent liberties.
Officials said he and the victim were walking with a group of people in the 00 block of North Clinton Street on Nov. 23 when she dropped and broke her phone and he stayed behind to help her pick up the pieces.
Starr started kissing and touching the girl inappropriately, then pushed her to the ground, got on top of her and started to drag her into a stairwell near some apartments, officials said.
She told authorities she screamed at him to stop, and a male from the group pushed Starr off of her and started beating him up, according to a police report.
Mulhern said in court Monday that the girl was frightened “half to death,” but now is doing fairly well and healing.
Terry McConn can be reached at email@example.com or 526-8319.