Judge declines leniency in lewd conduct case

SANDPOINT — A district judge is declining leniency for a Sandpoint man convicted of lewd and lascivious conduct with a minor.

Judge Barbara Buchanan ordered John Theodore Cook in March to serve up to 10 years in prison. Cook has to serve at least three years of the sentence before he can be considered for parole.

Cook was charged last year with molesting two minors in the early 2000s. One of the victims was between the ages of 8 and 10, while the other was between the ages of 10-12. In an agreement with the state, the two counts of lewd conduct were fused into a single count to which Cook pleaded guilty.

Cook, a 53-year-old former girls soccer coach from California, expressed remorse at sentencing for his misdeeds and the enduring impacts they have had on the victims.

Chief Public Defender Isabella Robertson recommended retained jurisdiction because he was rated as a low risk for recidivism due to his age. When jurisdiction is retained, a defendant can become eligible for probation after serving a year in prison.

Bonner County Prosecutor Louis Marshall recommended a five- to 15-year sentence due to the severity of the offense. Buchanan commended Cook for taking responsibility for his actions, but admonished him for taking 12 years to do so. Buchanan expressed concern at sentencing about the irreparable damage to the victims and multiple incidents of abuse.

After the sentence was imposed, Cook pled for leniency on grounds that his punishment was unduly harsh. Cook argued that Buchanan disregarded the psychosexual evaluator’s finding that his risk of recidivism was radically reduced due to his age. Buchanan, however, rejected Cook’s plea for leniency, noting that he received a lesser sentence sought by the state.

“The Court’s denial of retained jurisdiction and imposition of sentence of a term of imprisonment was necessary to protect society, to achieve retribution for the victims and to act as a deterrent to others in the community would think of harming a child,” Buchanan added in her May 1 ruling.

Cook is appealing Buchanan’s denial to the Idaho Supreme Court, records show.

The record in Cook’s case further shows that a third woman has come forward while his case was pending. The woman, now 37, told Sandpoint Police last December that Cook molested her in Tracy, Calif., when she was 14 years old. Bonner County’s Victim Advocate Services Team contacted authorities in California about the allegations, but the statute of limitations could not be overcome, according to court documents.

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