40-year prison term with parole restriction for local
Judge Blair Jones is not willing to risk letting Joseph Marsh victimize any more children.
The only way to accomplish that, Jones has determined, is to make sure Marsh is incarcerated and on probation for a substantial number of years.
On Monday afternoon, Jones imposed a 40-year prison term on Marsh, with the requirement that he complete Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the sex offender treatment program before being eligible for parole.
Marsh was also designated a Level 2 sex offender, meaning he is at moderate risk to reoffend.
Jones noted the following as reasons for the sentence:
•Marsh was found in possession of more than 21,000 photos and 400 videos of child pornography on his computer.
•He has a prior offense of the same nature.
•He committed the new crime while undergoing sex offender treatment.
“These children will never be the same…They’ll know everyday what has happened to them,” Jones said at the hearing. “It’s too much of a risk to have another child damaged or destroyed by the defendant’s conduct.”
Assistant Attorney General Ole Olson and Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde had asked for a 50-year prison sentence. At the hearing, Olson said he was not convinced that anything had changed from the time of Marsh’s first offense and the second one.
“The victims deserve better,” said Olson.
Defense attorney Jeff Michael asked for a 20-year commitment to the Department of Corrections with 15 years suspended.
Three people testified on behalf of Marsh, each saying the Rapelje community is ready to embrace Marsh and help him. Jones asked each witness how he or she would keep Marsh accountable. While Jones said he appreciated those who support Marsh, in the end, accountability rests solely with Marsh, and that is a problem.
“THOUSANDS OF VICTIMS”
One year ago, Montana Division of Criminal Investigation Agent Gary Seder executed a search warrant on Marsh’s residence on East Second Avenue North in Columbus. The warrant was based on an ongoing investigation Seders was conducting that had identified Marsh as downloading child pornography and various peer-to-peer file sharing networks from internet protocol addresses associated with his home, the Stillwater County Library and a local church, according to court documents.
A computer in Marsh’s home had the background image of a girl between the ages of 7 and 10 performing a sexual act, according to court documents. Installed on the computer were the same class of programs Seder had identified as being used to download child pornography.
At Monday’s sentencing hearing, Olson said the photographs contained the images of thousands of victims who were raped and exploited and then victimized again by Marsh viewing them.
In December 2017, Marsh pleaded guilty to one felony count of sexual abuse of children.
According to the Montana Sexual Violent Offender Registry, Marsh was convicted of “federal wrongful distribution and possession of child pornography” in 2010. According to statements made at Monday’s sentencing hearing, that case involved a similar crime committed when Marsh was in the United States military.