Plea pact resolves lewd conduct case

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SANDPOINT — A Bonner County man will serve 19 days in jail after entering a plea to a reduced charge in a lewd conduct case, 1st District Court records show.

Michael Douglas White entered an Alford plea to a charge of misdemeanor injury to a child. Under the terms of the plea, White admits no wrongdoing but concedes a jury could convict him of the offense if the case went before a jury.

White, 53, is scheduled to be sentenced on Jan. 30, 2018, court records indicate. He has been free on a $50,000 surety bond since the allegations surfaced in 2016.

A binding plea agreement in the case recommends a 180-day jail sentence with 160 days suspended and credit for one day he’s already spent behind bars. White will be allowed work release when he begins serving the sentence in February 2018, according to the agreement.

White was accused of fondling a 12-year-old’s breasts and vagina over a five-month period in 2015. He was charged also charged with exposing the girl to pornography. He was charged with one count of lewd conduct with a minor and two counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

White pleaded not guilty and his counsel put up a vigorous defense, court records indicate. There was a succession of defense motions which questioned the competency of the alleged victim and tried to compel more precise detail in the elements of the charge against him.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall argued at a preliminary hearing last fall that White targeted the alleged victim under the incorrect belief that she would be less likely to disclose the abuse due to her developmental delay, which was thought to be the result of severe neglect by her biological mother, according to a hearing transcript. Defense counsel Anne Taylor maintained that there was no credible evidence in the case and that the charges were a vengeful fabrication of the woman who is now the child’s mother.

Judge Debra Heise ruled there was sufficient evidence to warrant a trial on the charges, court records show.

White entered the plea during a pretrial hearing on Dec. 22.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by phone at 208-263-9534, by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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