Two men were sentenced in Davison County court Tuesday for unrelated sexual offenses against the same teenager.
Both 46-year-old Lance Bult, of Corsica, and 29-year-old Allen Palmer, of Ethan, were granted suspended impositions of sentence for their convictions, in part because the victim in both cases, who was 15 at the time of both men's offenses, presented himself as an adult.
"This person was holding themselves out as 18 or older," Judge Chris Giles said during Bult's sentencing hearing. "This goes to show you cannot believe everything you see on the internet."
Giles said that while he doesn't want to blame the victim, he felt that some accountability in this case does fall to the victim because he has been involved in similar situations with others by misrepresenting his age.
Palmer's attorney, Theresa Maule Rossow, said Palmer's offenses occurred in part because Palmer trusted that the victim was truthful in saying he was of legal age.
Palmer was convicted of fourth-degree rape, a Class 3 felony. According to court documents, Palmer told police in June that on multiple occasions, he had picked up the 15-year-old in Mitchell, driven him to Ethan and had consensual sex with him before taking him back to Mitchell.
Palmer was sentenced to two years probation and was ordered to pay a $1,500 fine, $106.50 in court costs and $2,000 in reimbursement for a psychosexual evaluation. He must also complete a mental health evaluation.
Bult, meanwhile, was arrested in August and charged in an unrelated case with possession of child pornography and solicitation with a minor for sending sexually explicit messages and attempting to meet the same victim. He was convicted Tuesday for the solicitation charge, a Class 4 felony.
"He does want the court to know that this was the biggest mistake of his life," said Bult's attorney, Ashley Anson.
Giles noted that the minor had continued to contact Bult after Bult discontinued contact.
Bult, like Palmer, was ordered to pay $2,000 for a psychosexual evaluation and $106.50 in court costs and sentenced to two years probation. He was fined $1,250 and must repay court-appointed attorney's fees.
Giles told The Daily Republic in an email Tuesday that there may be charges pending in other cases that concern the same juvenile victim.