PROVO — A 43-year-old man faces up to eight consecutive life sentences in prison for sexually abusing children he baby-sat at a day care center four years ago.
Anthony Ray Jones, of Provo, has admitted he raped and sodomized children numerous times at a day care center near 1231 E. 520 South and in an adjacent tree house. He also admitted to sexually assaulting children while he baby-sat them at his home and other residences.
Jones pled guilty and mentally ill to eight reduced charges of attempted aggravated sex abuse of a child — all first-degree felonies, and a 4th. District judge sentenced him to as many as eight consecutive life sentences in Utah State Prison.
Prosecutor Chad Grunander said the judge's ruling was strong and appropriate considering the gravity of Jones's actions.
"He was there to care for the children and was in a position of trust," he said. "He took clear advantage of that."
Jones's attorney, Lisa Estrada, did not respond to an e-mail request for comment Friday.
In August 2007, police reports state, three children — ages 8, 10, and 13 and at the time — told police Jones repeatedly assaulted them three years earlier while at the day care center, as well as at his Provo residence and other homes in Salem and Spanish Fork.
One girl told police the abuse happened "a lot, a lot, a lot" when Jones's wife left, the report states. She also said he assaulted her in the tree house of the day care, inside the day care, at his home and during a camping trip to Mona.
A sister and brother told police Jones assaulted them more than a dozen while he baby-sat them, the report states. They also said Jones threatened to kill them if they told anyone what he did.
Prosecutors feared Jones had more victims since he was in a day care environment. But, thus far, they've found four children who report being abused.
Police confronted Jones, and he admitted to the assaults, saying that "this felt good," the report states. The state initially filed 22 first-degree felonies against him in August 2007. The case stalled in November 2007 because Jones was not considered competent to stand trial, Grunander said.
In May 2008, Jones was considered competent and the case resumed. He pleaded guilty and mentally ill to eight reduced charges of attempted aggravated sex abuse of a child. He's also apologized to his victims and said he wishes he could take back the abuse, Grunander said.
A judge sentenced him to eight consecutive sentences of three years to life in Utah State Prison. But he could serve a portion of that sentence in Utah State Hospital because he suffers from a mental illness, Grunander said.
The Utah County Attorney's Office and the victims' families are pleased with the sentence, he added.
"We're pleased with the willingness of the court to impose such a strict sentence to do what it can to keep this man away from others," he said, then added, "Away from the community."