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Man sentenced for abuse of child at local elementary school in 2008

Crime Watch

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POCATELLO — A Pocatello man has been sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to injuring a child.

David James McGarry, 52, was indicted in 2019 for the 2008 rape of a first-grade student at Washington Elementary School. He was originally charged with felony lewd conduct with a child and felony injury to a child, according to court documents.

A three- to six-year prison sentence was suspended by 6th District Judge Robert Naftz, who instead issued a four-year felony probation period.

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As part of the agreement, the lewd conduct charge was dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea to the injury to a child charge.

The victim was a student in a class taught by McGarry’s former wife, Tiffany Marie Petersen, at the time of the attack. Documents attached to a federal civil suit filed against Peterson and the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 claim that the victim was subjected to physical, verbal and sexual abuse by Peterson and McGarry in the classroom.

The suit also claims that the victim, who was 7 or 8 years old at the time of the attack in 2008, became withdrawn.

After concerns regarding the change in the boy’s behavior were brought to the school district, Petersen was transferred to a different school.

The victim suffered from physical and mental ailments, including anxiety and trouble eating, leading to multiple trips to the emergency room. He is currently on several medications prescribed to treat behavioral issues and anxiety, according to the lawsuit.

Petersen reached an Alford plea agreement, leading to both felony charges being dismissed and a misdemeanor sentence of two years supervised probation. She was also ordered to pay $1,090.50 in fines and fees. An Alford plea is a guilty plea where a defendant continues to assert their innocence but admits a jury would likely find them guilty with the evidence presented.

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In addition to probation, McGarry has been ordered to pay $945.50 in court fees and fines. Naftz also gave McGarry’s probation officers 120 days of discretionary jail time — meaning the probation officer is capable of sending him to jail for that length of time if probation is violated.