27-year-old ordered to undergo sex offender treatment for sexually touching 16-year-old

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William Bird | Bonneville County Jail

IDAHO FALLS — A judge placed a 27-year-old man on a rider with 20 years in prison hanging over his head after it was discovered he had sexually touched a 16-year-old girl.

William Bird, 27, was sentenced to three years fixed and 17 years indeterminate. District Judge Bruce Pickett retained jurisdiction on the case placing Bird on a year-long rider program for sex offender treatment.

A rider is a program that lasts up to one year. While in prison, the defendant undergoes treatment and at the end, a report is sent to the judge who then decides if the defendant can go on probation or be sent back to prison to finish out their sentence.

As part of the plea agreement, Bird pleaded guilty to felony sexual battery of a minor 16 to 17 years of age in September. The defense and prosecution recommended Bird be placed on a rider with an underlying sentence of 15 years with three years fixed and 12 indeterminate. The judge opted for a stricter sentence after hearing from Bird.

“I do love her and she’s been a really good friend to me,” Bird said in his statements during sentencing.

Pickett told Bird that statement was particularly concerning to him.

William Bird is sentenced. | Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com

“First and foremost, it’s this court’s obligation to protect society,” Pickett said during sentencing. “In this case, you were having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old, of course, followed by the fact that you said you love her today. Our society has determined … that people at 27 years old don’t have relationships with a sexual nature in any way with a 16-year-old.”

During the sentencing hearing, the prosecution revealed Bird failed to give a clean polygraph examination during the presentencing investigation.

Pickett emphasized that Bird will be required to give a clean polygraph if he hopes to successfully complete his rider.

Bird was arrested in March after he told investigators he had sexually touched a 16-year-old girl. When investigators spoke to the victim, she told them she and Bird spoke nearly every day over Facebook Messenger.

Bird said their relationship had been going on for around a year.

According to court documents, the girl’s own electronic devices were taken away after her parents learned about the relationship between her and Bird. She told investigators she used her friends’ devices to speak to Bird while she was at school.

She said she and Bird had hugged each other, but that was the extent of their physical relationship.

However, after being pressed by investigators, Bird said they had kissed and that he had touched her breasts over her clothing.

Investigators also found a topless photo of her on Bird’s phone.

“Having to move on from this situation is difficult, but I can do it if I’m given the chance,” Bird said. “I do apologize.”

Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney John Dewey said there is no evidence of force or coercion on Bird’s part.

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