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Wesley John Smith

Wesley John Smith

A Missoula man who forced a 9-year-old girl to strip and dance for him was sentenced to prison Thursday.

Missoula County District Court Judge Leslie Halligan imposed a 100-year sentence on Wesley Smith, but suspended 80 years of it.

At a trial in June, a jury found Smith, 35, guilty of sexual abuse of children for the incident involving the girl. According to court documents, the girl reported that Smith also removed his own clothing, apart from his underwear, during the incident.

At trial, Smith’s public defense attorney Joan Burbridge told the jury the girl lied about what happened.

Smith later pleaded no contest to felonies for assault on a minor and aggravated assault in a separate case. Those charges, as well as two other felonies that were dropped by prosecutors, involved incidents dating back to as early as February 2014. They included allegations that Smith shoved chili powder into a 2-year-old child’s mouth and had attacked and strangled his then-wife.

Halligan’s sentence on Thursday included a provision that Smith not be eligible for parole until he completes the first phase of sex offender treatment while in prison. Upon release, he will be under supervision for the remainder of the 100-year term, and must be tracked by GPS. Smith must also register as both a sexual and violent offender.

On Thursday, Smith’s attorney argued for a more lenient sentence of 30 years in prison with 20 of those suspended. Burbridge brought up her client’s lack of felony history as well evidence that she said “clearly illustrates a home where there were issues.”

Prosecutor Brittany Williams had requested a harsher sentence than the one imposed, saying Smith has refused to take responsibility for what he did and blames the girl and his ex-wife for his charge and eventual conviction.

“The Legislature has made it very clear that those people who hurt children must spend time in prison,” she said.

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Law and Justice Reporter

Crime reporter for the Missoulian.