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Scales of justice

A Missoula man convicted of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl was sentenced Tuesday to 20 years with the Department of Corrections, with all but five years suspended.

Craig Allen Gibson, 29, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting the girl on numerous occasions in 2013.

On Tuesday afternoon, District Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps handed down the sentence in Missoula District Court, recommending Gibson be considered for community placement while he is under DOC supervision.

Before issuing the sentence, Deschamps said he needed to consider the impacts of his decision. He said the mother of the child wanted Gibson to be incarcerated for the remainder of his life, but the child also needs counseling, which Gibson agreed to pay for.

“I don't want to read my name in the paper tomorrow because I let some child molester out on a probationary sentence,” he said. “That concerns me.”

“One of the things is he’s almost claiming to be the innocent victim of circumstance,” Deschamps added, asking Dr. Michael Scolatti, who conducted Gibson’s psycho-sexual evaluation, if he believed the defendant had accepted responsibility for his actions.

“I don't think he is accepting full responsibility, and I do think he is minimizing,” Scolatti said. “I think he facilitated this and encouraged this. That's bothersome to me.”

Gibson’s attorney, Pat Sandefur, argued the defendant was ashamed and embarrassed by the incident and had a difficult time expressing his guilt to the psychologist during the evaluation.

He also said the defendant has no previous felonies and has had no contact with the child since he posted bail in September of 2013. He’s been gainfully employed for four years, and will be able to pay for the girl’s counseling for the remainder of his life.

Before handing down the sentence, Deschamps gave Gibson an opportunity to speak.

“I would just like to say I understood it was wrong and take responsibility,” Gibson said. “It's not her fault, it's 100 percent my fault. I will do anything in my power to correct my behavior.”

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