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Man pleads guilty to sexually abusing child

Crime Watch

SHELLEY – A Shelley man has pleaded guilty to sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl.

Jonathan Balmforth, 40, changed his plea to guilty on July 20 after a plea agreement with the Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. He was originally charged with the four counts of child sexual abuse in May 2021 and initially pleaded not guilty to all charges.

As part of the plea agreement, in exchange for a single guilty plea, three of the counts of child sexual abuse were dismissed.

Police reports show in May 2020, a woman contacted police after finding out that an extended family member had allegedly sexually abused a child in the home where they lived.

The woman told police that while staying at the house for a sleepover, an 11-year-old girl had been assaulted by Balmforth.

The woman’s daughter told her mother that she had woken up to use the restroom, and saw that her sister’s bedroom door, where her sister and the victim had been sleeping, was open, and it was usually closed. The victim was also no longer in the room.

The girl then searched the whole house and could not find the 11-year-old, until she noticed “(Balmforth’s) bedroom door was ajar and she could hear Jonathan talking with a female juvenile who (the girl) believed to be (the 11-year-old).”

After learning about the incident, the mother spoke to the victim, who said she had gotten cold during the night and went looking for a blanket.

The victim said Balmforth saw her walking around the house and asked her to come into his room. According to court documents, he told the victim to sit on the bed, and began touching her breasts, genitals and began kissing her.

After hearing about this from the victim, the woman called Balmforth on the phone, who admitted to doing everything that the victim said had happened. After getting off the phone, the woman packed up all of Balmforth’s belongings, and when he arrived home, she kicked him out of the house, according to the police report.

During an interview with the victim at Bright Tomorrows Child Advocacy Center in Pocatello, the victim told the interviewer that while Balmforth was allegedly assaulting her, she whispered to him, “please stop.”

Balmforth initially appeared in court in January 2021, a no-contact order was issued for the victim, and Balmforth was released on his own recognizance.

Balmforth is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 12. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article said Jonathan Balmforth pleaded guilty to four counts of child sexual abuse. That was incorrect. As part of a plea agreement, he only pleaded to one count. The others were dismissed. apologizes for the error.

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