Michel Sentenced in Solicitation Case
By SHAUN FRIEDRICHSEN
Over a year after the case was filed against him, Lee Michel came before District Court Judge Travis O’Gorman to receive his sentence in a case where he was found guilty of soliciting prostitution.
According to court documents, the case arose from a report on Feb. 23, 2018, that Michel had text messaged a 17-year-old girl offering her money to touch her in a sexual manner.
Officers confirmed the information, viewing the text messages as evidence. They took Michel into custody, and he was charged with solicitation of prostitution, a class 4 felony. The charges were reduced through a plea agreement to a class 1 misdemeanor. Michel pleaded no contest to the charge and was found guilty.
During sentencing, Deputy County Attorney Jamian Simmons said she did not believe that Michel had taken the case seriously enough, but recommended a sentence of probation because of the opportunity for Michel to undergo counseling.
“Mr. Michel doesn’t seem to understand or take seriously what he did,” Simmons said. “I think there needs to be some counseling in place to impress upon him that what he did had an effect on the victim.”
Michel’s attorney, James Korth, disagreed with Simmons’ assessment, but also argued for a sentence of probation.
“My client is deeply sorry for what happened,” said Korth. “If he could take it back, he would. We believe probation provides the best opportunity. This is a serious offense, but he is a productive member of the community; he’s gainfully employed and he’s married. Ultimately, it’s our belief that probation is sufficiently punitive. No one has asked for incarceration.”
When his opportunity to speak came, Michel said it is a difficult situation and that, “He never wanted to put anyone in that situation.”
After reviewing the pre-sentence investigation, Judge O’Gorman agreed that probation would be the best course of action, sentencing him to serve 24 months probation.
“This is an odd case,” said Judge O’Gorman. “It’s a disturbing case. I think probation is appropriate though, with some structure and some guidance.”