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Counseling-center worker sentenced to prison for sex offenses

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Jonathan Carver, right, reacts as 3rd District Judge Stephen Henriod sentences him to prison on Tuesday.

Jonathan Carver, right, reacts as 3rd District Judge Stephen Henriod sentences him to prison on Tuesday.

Jason Olson, Deseret News

TOOELE — Judge Stephen Henriod didn't mince words Tuesday when sentencing a house parent at a center for emotionally troubled teens who admitted he repeatedly had sex with a 17-year-old girl.

The 3rd District judge termed Jonathan Carver's rationalizations for his behavior "disgusting" and "reprehensible," and sentenced Carver to serve five to 30 years behind bars.

Henriod, who has been on the bench for 15 years, called Carver's admissions to evaluators "the most dishonest exhibition of a defendant" he had ever seen.

"I think he was lying throughout his psychosexual and pre-sentence reports, and that is not unusual," the judge said. "But I've never seen it to the extent I have with Mr. Carver."

The girl's father had equally harsh words.

"Make no mistake — we are in the presence of evil right now," the father said. "He will always be an enemy of my family."

Carver, 29, formerly worked with his wife at Alpine Academy as house parents in a residential center for teenagers who have psychological difficulties. The academy provides counseling and treatment, while the house parents are hired to offer daily supervision and to provide a family-like atmosphere.

The girl's parents brought her from Georgia to Alpine Academy, trusting that the agency could help their daughter, most particularly with a problem in setting boundaries.

Prior to Tuesday's sentencing, Carver had pleaded guilty to five counts of forcible sexual abuse, which were amended to second-degree felonies as part of a plea bargain. A charge of third-degree felony witness tampering was dismissed.

Henriod appeared especially offended by Carver on one hand saying he has taken responsibility for his actions and on the other, in a five-page written statement, blaming the underage girl for "pushing herself on him" while Carver himself was "weak."

"He blames the victim over and over and over and over," Henriod said. "She pushed herself on him? That is reprehensible and disgusting, Mr. Carver. You are unhappy you got caught. I do think you're a danger to the community and children."

The girl's father wept as he lashed out at Carver, saying Carver had taken advantage of the inside information he had about the girl's vulnerabilities and, in typical pedophile fashion, isolated her from her family, "groomed" her for his affection, and then slowly escalated the contact until he began raping her three or four times a week, using his position of trust to make the girl think this was love.

The father called Carver deceitful, manipulative and "someone who has a God complex and believes he's smarter than anyone else in this room."

Even after the girl returned home, Carver taught her to install a ghost hard-drive on a computer and another device that hides correct phone numbers to conceal their continued communication.

The father also said that during the police investigation, Carver harassed the girl and her family with such things as demeaning comments on social-networking sites, along with unwanted phone calls and text messages.

The mother also denounced Carver, and both of the parents said Carver's wife should be ashamed for turning a blind eye to what was going on for months when the girl was at Alpine Academy. Carver's wife has not been charged with anything. Prosecutors say they do not know when she became aware of Carver's conduct with the girl.

Carver apologized in court.

"Your honor, the things that happened to me that I did, I don't have any excuses for," he said. "I regret it. I'd do anything to change it. Apologies seem weak at this point, but I destroyed a lot of people, especially her and her family. I know I need help. I want to be good and do good. I'm really sorry," Carver said.

Carver's lawyer, Jon Williams, said the psychosexual evaluation showed Carver to be a low risk for re-offending and asked the judge for probation, or barring that, concurrent sentences.

However, Tooele County Attorney Doug Hogan said Carver knew of the personal problems the girl was struggling with and, instead of helping her as someone in a position of trust should do, took advantage of the girl.

e-mail: lindat@desnews.com