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Judge Gives Former Idaho Senator Tougher Sentence Than Expected

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Darin Oswald
Idaho Statesman

Former Idaho state senator John McGee will spend at least the next 44 days in jail. John McGee entered a guilty plea, as expected, to misdemeanor disturbing the peace of an individual. What was not expected was the sentence. McGee’s attorney and the prosecutor had agreed to recommend five days in jail. But 4th District Judge James Cawthon handed down 44 days followed by 44 more days that could be served in jail or supervised community service. The judge explained his tougher sentence saying McGee committed his crime while serving the public trust and victimized a person over whom he had power.

Deputy Ada County Prosecutor Jean Fisher says she did not seek a harsher sentence because the victim wanted the ordeal over quickly.“Because her life really had been turned upside down and she didn’t deserve that,” Fisher says. “And she really wanted closure. And so we respected that and kind of came into the plea negotiation from that perspective. Because it would have been tawdry and miserable.”

The victim is identified in court documents only as H.N. but in court Fisher filled in more of her story. During the 2011 legislative session H.N. was a 25 year old who worked as an aid to McGee. In 2012 McGee invited her back but she says McGee had become a different person, moody and mercurial. H.N. says more than once McGee locked the door to his office and made graphic sexual overtures toward her.

Judge Cawthon in Tuesday's sentencing asked McGee a number of rhetorical questions including, “what’s wrong with you?”  McGee was a rising star in the Republican Party. By the time he was in his late 30s he was Majority Caucus Chair and kept the leadership post even after a 2011 DUI conviction. He resigned his senate seat when the sexual harassment charges came to light.

McGee kept his head down though most of the hearing. A few times he removed his glasses and rubbed his eyes. His wife Hanna remained composed until the judge read his sentence. Then she began to cry and continued until after her husband was led away in handcuffs to start his jail time.

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