LOGAN — A 19-year-old Logan man will avoid further incarceration for having sex with a teenage girl, after the Utah Legislature changed the law. Jared M. Harper will instead be on probation for the next 18-months and undergo counseling.
Harper was sentenced in 1st District Court Tuesday morning. He previously pleaded guilty to two counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor, a third-degree felony. The charges were later reduced to misdemeanors after the Utah Legislature changed the severity of the crimes during last year’s legislative session.
In April, Harper was arrested after he and a co-defendant, 21-year-old Jaren K. Liljenquist, were found providing alcohol and methamphetamine to several underage juveniles. The group would engage in drinking alcohol, using meth, and having sex with each other.
During Tuesday’s sentencing, public defender Shannon Demler said Harper had already served six-months in jail and needed therapy more than further incarceration. He expressed hope that both his client and the victims could recover.
One of the victim’s mother addressed the court. She explained how her daughter had been affected by the crimes. The girl, who was 14-years-old at the time, is now in a treatment center, struggling with depression and addictions. The woman also suggested that the court consider treatment instead of further incarceration, explaining that because of Harper’s age, it would be hard to say whether jail or prison would help.
Speaking to Harper, Judge Brian Cannell said, “I want you to recognize the hell you put [the victim] through.” He said the crimes were horrific and the defendant should have protected the girl’s virtue.
Judge Cannell further expressed to Harper,“If the only thing you do is protect the public from yourself, I am glad. This should never happen again.”
Harper was sentenced to 176 days in jail and given credit for the time he had already served. He was ordered to complete drug and mental health assessments, sex-offender treatment, and pursue vocation training. If he does not complete probation successfully, he could be sentenced to 18 more months in jail or prison.
In September, Liljenquist was ordered to complete Drug Court, a weekly rehab program that is overseen by a judge, allowing him to avoid a jail sentence.