POCATELLO — A former Lava Hot Springs man who admitted to using his cell phone to video record a woman in the shower at KOA Campground there, was sentenced to five years probation on Monday.
Even though Sixth District Judge Stephen Dunn saw fit to place Cory Unsworth on probation, he did not think it was a good idea to allow the defendant to go back home to Brigham City, Utah, where he now lives, until a plan that would ensure his children’s safety at home was put in place.
Unsworth, also a former chairman of the Lava Hot Springs Planning & Zoning Commission, came to the attention of the Bannock County Sheriff’s Office when a Utah woman staying at the Lava Hot Springs KOA with her family called the agency to report seeing a cell phone pointed toward her from under the door as she dried herself after showering at the facility.
Police made contact with Unsworth, manager of the facility at the time, who showed officers his cell phone, and the photos and videos he had in its memory. The officer on the scene also noted his phone had a blue cover on it while the victim stated it was a black phone that she saw.
Almost a week later, however, the victim called the Bannock County Sheriff’s deputy she spoke with the day of the incident and told him that after he left, Unsworth came up to her and her family and admitted to her stepmother, that he had indeed video recorded the victim and needed to ask for forgiveness.
The deputy turned the case over to detectives who sought out a search warrant and three days later were at the Lava Hot Springs KOA executing that warrant. They also asked Unsworth to come back to their office in Pocatello to be interviewed about the incident.
During that interview, court documents show that Unsworth told detectives he recorded the victim for about 10 to 15 seconds, quickly removing his cell phone when he realized the victim saw it.
Unsworth was charged in November with one count of felony video voyeurism. He pleaded guilty in February and was in front of Dunn for sentencing on Monday.
During the lengthy sentencing, Unsworth’s attorney, Michael Neilsen told Dunn that he believed the psychosexual evaluation completed on his client was harsh in calling Unsworth a moderate risk of reoffending. He pointed out the presentence investigation called his client a low risk to reoffend and said he was concerned about the person performing the psychosexual evaluation and what he alluded to as an often harsh judgment of those facing sex crimes.
Neilsen also pointed out that Unsworth has no prior criminal record and has taken several steps to show he is sincere about addressing his problem, including going to treatment for pornography addiction, attending counseling with his wife and leaving the Lava Hot Springs KOA, knowing it was probably not an appropriate place for him to work as he addressed those issues.
Neilsen recommend probation and a withheld judgment for his client.
Jeff Cronin, Bannock County deputy prosecutor, also recommended probation and said his office did not object to a withheld judgment, leaving the decision to Dunn.
But Cronin did express some concerns about the picture Neilsen painted of his client, especially when it came to his honesty. Among the things Cronin pointed out was the fact that Unsworth first told officers he did nothing, then admitted to video recording the woman in question.
His admission later expanded to having done it a few times before, to having done it as many as 30 times, to having done it as many as 80 times.
Cronin also said that should Unsworth be placed on probation, the state wanted to see several recommendations from the psychosexual evaluation, including that safety plan for the Unsworth home, become requirements of his probation.
Unsworth, when he spoke to Dunn, called himself “careless,” for allowing an issue he had with legal pornography to result in his committing an illegal act.
“I have been actively trying to face this problem,” Unsworth said. “I made some terrible choices. I will not act out on these sexual impulses again.”
Dunn took some exception to Unsworth’s choice of words when he called his behavior careless, and to Unsworth’s wife’s characterization of the incident as a mistake on her husband’s part.
“You made some choices and that is not careless or a mistake,” Dunn said. “This is different than a pornography problem. You wouldn’t be here if you just had a pornography issue.”
Dunn denied Unsworth’s request for a withheld judgment, sentencing him to two years fixed and three years indeterminate before suspending the sentence and placing him on five years of probation.
“I don’t have much heartburn about putting you on probation, but I do have heartburn about giving you a withheld judgment,” Dunn said, also reminding the defendant that should he complete probation without issue, he could request the charge be dismissed.
Because Unsworth is now living in Utah, he will have to apply for permission to serve his probation there, something probation and parole officers in the courtroom said could take 45 days to approve. In the mean time, Neilsen requested Unsworth be allowed to return to Utah where he is working.
After some discussion and deliberation, Dunn said he was not comfortable with Unsworth returning home until a plan for his children’s safety was in place. He also said that if the steps the family has already put in place are approved as that safety plan by probation and parole, he would consider allowing Unsworth to return home prior to Utah approving Unsworth serving his probation there.
Until then, Unsworth will be required to live in Idaho’s Sixth Judicial District, which includes the six most southeastern Idaho counties.