Man pleads guilty to lewd conduct

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SANDPOINT — A Washington state man who received a new trial on a lewd conduct charge is pleading guilty to the alleged offense.

March Richard Boncz’s entered the plea during a hearing in 1st District Court on Monday. Judge Barbara Buchanan imposed an eight- to 20-year prison term and gave Boncz credit for eight years he’s already served in the case, court records show.

Boncz was convicted during a 2009 bench trial of molesting a Priest River girl, when she was five years old. Boncz denied the allegations and argued that the allegations were either maliciously concocted or used as cover the shield the actual perpetrator.

Boncz, a 62-year-old Newport resident, opted for a court trial after it was divulged during a jury selection that he had previously been convicted of sexually abusing a minor in 1987. He was ultimately convicted and ordered to serve up to life in prison.

Boncz, however, successfully appealed his conviction on grounds he should have been called as a witness during the trial because he would have been able to impeach or otherwise discredit the testimony of the state’s witnesses. The Idaho Court of Appeals ruled that Boncz had a prima facie showing he received ineffective assistance from his trial counsel.

Boncz was scheduled to be re-tried next month, but entered into mediation with the state which produced a binding plea agreement requiring him to unequivocally admit that he engaged in lewd conduct with the alleged victim, court records show.

The alleged victim took part in the mediation, but did not wish to provide the court on Monday with a victim impact statement, court documents indicate. Boncz also declined to address the court on Monday.

The agreement, which Buchanan agreed to adopt, also recommended a custodial sentence of time served.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall recommended a 10-year period of probation, while Deputy Public Defender Susie Jensen recommended a two-year term, court documents indicate. Jensen said Boncz intends on leaving the area once booked out of the Bonner County Jail.

Regardless of where Boncz resettles, he will have to register as a convicted sex offender, court records show.

Buchanan imposed a five-year term of sex offender probation and imposed an order prohibiting him from being in contact with the alleged victim or members of her family.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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