A former Hamilton man was arrested in Oregon for allegedly having sexual relations with a friend's underage daughter, beginning when he lived with them.
Gregory Sage, who is now 40 years old, was 34 when the alleged relationship began with the girl, who was 15 at the time.
The girl initially denied that they had a sexual relationship, after her mother grew suspicious and reported her concerns to the Hamilton Police Department in April 2013, according to court documents. The mother said Sage appeared to be having an inappropriately close physical relationship with her daughter, and treated her more like a girlfriend than a child.
The mother later kicked Sage out of the house, but the girl allegedly continued to sneak off to see him in Missoula. By the time the daughter was 18 years old and went away to college, she disclosed to her mother that Sage was her “best friend” and was living near where she attended college.
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The girl finally agreed to be truthful with detectives in February 2016, acknowledging that while she wanted to protect Sage, she realized he had hurt her and what he had done was wrong, according to court documents.
The documents outlined what’s often called “grooming” of a child by an adult, with the relationship progressing from a playful one to that of a sexual nature. In one case, they told the girl’s mother that the two were going to the Halloween Corn Maze, but instead had sex in a vehicle.
When he was kicked out of the house, Sage allegedly left a cell phone behind for the girl. He repeatedly told her “that he did not want to go to jail, that if she said anything about what they had been doing he would end up in jail,” according to the affidavit of probable cause. He also allegedly told her that if he was caught, he “would hurt himself” because he didn’t want to go to jail.
An arrest warrant was issued for Sage, and he was arrested in Benton County, Oregon, in October, then booked into the Ravalli County Detention Center Nov. 17 on three felony charges of sexual intercourse without consent; and two felony charges of sexual abuse of children. His bond was set at $250,000.