PROVO — Pasting pictures of family members' and friends' faces on bodies of pornographic women, then posting them online is a reprehensible, unbelievable crime, a judge said Wednesday in rejecting a sentencing recommendation for a man accused of the crime.

Lance Rushton, 37, pleaded guilty in 4th District Court in April to three counts of distributing pornographic material, a third-degree felony.

Rushton allegedly uploaded pictures of family members and friends to the Internet after manipulating the faces to fit on sexually explicit pictures of different bodies, according to a police affidavit.

The pictures had been online for at least a year and included more than a dozen pictures of two individuals ages 14 and 17 years old, according to the affidavit.

"I find that what he did was reprehensible, beyond belief," said Judge Claudia Laycock. "I can't imagine why he did it, why he may have thought this was OK. It is about as cruel an act as I've ever seen — right up there with child abuse."

With that preface, Laycock said she didn't agree with the agreement between prosecutors and Rushton's attorney that Rushton not serve any jail time, but rather get placed on the ankle-monitoring GPS system.

Laycock indicated she would probably impose a sentence of three or four months on the ankle monitoring system, then 45 days in jail, then more time on the monitoring system.

"I feel very strongly about sending the appropriate message to the public that he can't destroy lives like this then not serve any straight time," Laycock said.

Prosecutor Randy Kennard, who wasn't the attorney who agreed to the proposed sentence, also expressed concerns about the defendant's "troublesome behavior." He said Rushton knew his pornographic pictures were being accessed by others on the Internet but didn't do anything about it for months.Based on Laycock's comments, Rushton's attorney Mike Esplin asked that the sentencing be continued to July 25 at 8:30 a.m.

"My concern is for his job and family," Esplin said. He asked that Rushton be able to talk with his employer about his job.

Esplin did mention that Rushton has been in therapy since his arrest and had voluntarily destroyed the pornographic images before police got involved.

He said Rushton has also suffered consequences through his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

"I really regret my actions," Rushton said. "I brought a lot of harm to a lot of individuals."


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com