Robert J. Butterfield might not have been looking for trouble on April 12, but it found him.
His friend invited a group of teenagers over to Butterfield’s house to party when they stopped to help him after a bike accident, according to court documents. Alcohol and marijuana were provided to the teens, most of whom were high school freshmen.
At some point during the night, Butterfield, 28, got naked and climbed into a bed that was already occupied by a boy and girl. What happened next is disputed.
The girl told police that Butterfield “forcefully engaged (her) in sexual acts.” But prosecutors were unable to prove that occurred, an Ada County deputy prosecutor said at Butterfield’s sentencing this week for felony injury to a child.
The teens gave conflicting accounts and/or were uncooperative, and there wasn’t any physical evidence of sexual assault, the prosecutor said. Saliva obtained from the girl’s neck was tested, and it turned out to be from her boyfriend.
“I read all of those police reports, including all of the statements,” Judge Richard D. Greenwood said. “One thing I agree with the state on is it’s quite confusing. We cannot tell for sure what happened in that house that night, other than it shouldn’t have happened.”
Greenwood said he doubted the veracity of some of the teens. The judge also said he had no doubt that the girl who accused Butterfield of assaulting her was traumatized by that night.
Police got involved after a neighbor of Butterfield’s called emergency dispatch to say juveniles were outside screaming at Butterfield and accusing him of rape, a deputy prosecutor said in court.
Butterfield was charged with felony lewd conduct with a minor under 16, felony aiding and abetting delivery of a controlled substance to a minor, and misdemeanor dispensing alcohol to a minor. He pleaded guilty to injury to a child through an agreement with prosecutors.
Butterfield spoke briefly at his sentencing, first commenting on a victim impact statement provided by the mother of the girl who alleged sexual misconduct.
“I just want to say this breaks my heart, this letter right here about the victim,” he said. “None of this was my intention. I didn’t intend to have these kids in my house. I knew better when I brought them in ... Alcohol is a big issue.”
Greenwood said the crime that Butterfield committed was on “on the severe side” of the offense of injury to a child, “more than just some adult providing beer for kids, or some adult being present at the party.”
“It was his house. He let them in,” Greenwood said.
Butterfield had already served about nine months in jail by the time of his sentencing early this week. Greenwood gave him credit for 279 days served and sentenced him to seven years of supervised probation. Butterfield’s probation officer has 60 discretionary jail days that he or she can impose if Butterfield breaks any rules; it’s a disciplinary tool that doesn’t require the officer to go back to the judge.
Greenwood imposed steep penalties if Butterfield violates probation — up to seven years in prison, including two before he’d be eligible for parole. He must pay $745.50 in fines and fees.
Butterfield was a model inmate at the Ada County Jail over the past nine months, his attorney said, despite his reputation being sullied by the allegation that he committed a sex crime.
Greenwood acknowledged Butterfield’s good behavior while in custody, noting that hasn’t been the case in the past.
“Perhaps he has grown up? I don’t know,” Greenwood said. “We’ll find out.”