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Sex offender on probation going to prison after sexting with underage girls

Crime Watch

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IDAHO FALLS — After sexting with teenage girls, a registered sex offender on probation is going back to prison.

Joseph Stanley Loertscher, 23, admitted Tuesday to violating probation after being released from a rider program in 2019. With the probation violation, District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. said the only option to protect the community was to send Loertscher to prison to finish serving his two to 15 year prison sentence.

Loertscher was living in Boise until his arrest this month for violating probation on a 2017 Bonneville County case for statutory rape and sex abuse of a minor by solicitation. When sentenced in 2018, Watkins placed Loertscher into a rider program before ultimately placing him on probation a year later.

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In the original case, investigators say Loertscher had sex with a teenager in the Hillview Elementary School parking lot in April 2016. He was also communicating with and exchanging sexually explicit images with teenage girls over the internet, including the statutory rape victim. Investigators say Loertscher had over 200 sexually explicit images of teens between the ages of 15 and 16 years old.

During Tuesday’s hearing, Watkins went over all of Loertscher’s admitted probation violations.

While on probation, Loertscher was supposed to maintain full-time employment; however, he was only working part-time at a restaurant.

Loertscher was also having difficulties completing his sex offender treatment after failing to make payments to the program.

Watkins described more serious offenses, like how probation officers found Loertscher had multiple unapproved electronic devices and access to the internet. His landlord told probation officers Loertscher would spend a significant amount of time in his room playing video games online.

Among Loertscher’s probation violations, he was accessing pornography websites.

Loertscher would also sext with teenage girls over the internet, something that led to his original charges. While a handful of the girls were 15 or 16 years old, Loertscher admitted to having sexual conversations with a girl he knew was only 12.

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Despite having issues with paying for his sex offender treatment, Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Russell Spencer pointed out to Watkins how the man could pay for his online subscriptions and electronics used to communicate with underage girls. He said the best option would be to send Loertscher to prison.

Defense Attorney Rocky Wixom told Watkins he the contact was virtual and not physical, something Watkins said is still “a risk to others.” Wixom asked that his client be allowed to serve some local jail time and be given another chance on probation.

Loertscher also addressed Watkins, saying he realized he messed up. He said his family could be a good support to him while on probation and he wants to attend “sexaholics anonymous.”

Before ordering Loertscher to prison, Watkins said the sex offender’s actions were “equivalent of throwing an accelerant onto a fire.”