October 08, 2018 06:26 PM
A man who spent one day in jail for soliciting sex from an underage girl must be re-sentenced by a Hennepin County judge, according to a ruling Monday by the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
The court found Judge Fred Karasov abused his discretion earlier this year when he departed from state sentencing guidelines and downgraded John Elliott’s felony conviction to a gross misdemeanor.
Elliott, 24, had been convicted of hiring or agreeing to hire an individual whom he believed to be between 16 and 18 years old to engage in sexual contact.
He admitted to police in March 2017 that he agreed to pay $120 to have sex with a girl he believed was 16, according to court records.
Karasov sentenced Elliott to one year in jail but stayed 364 days of the sentence, which meant he only served one day behind bars.
The judge stated Elliott had shown an appropriate level of remorse, did not initially seek to hire an underage prostitute and had tried to verify that she was at least 16, according to records.
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A spokesperson for Hennepin County District Courts said Karasov could not comment on his ruling.
In that ruling, Karasov also stated that Elliott “was relatively close in age” to the girl he thought he was hiring for sex. Elliott was 22 years old at the time.
A three-judge panel found those reasons to be inadequate, stating, “the exploitative nature of an adult agreeing to hire a minor to engage in sexual contact is no less serious based on the fact that he was ‘only’ six years older..."
In a statement, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office said in part, “…while we respect the judge’s role in sentencing, we felt something less than a felony conviction was inappropriate. And the court of appeals agreed.”
Elliott’s attorney declined to comment on Monday’s ruling. A new sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.
Updated: October 08, 2018 06:26 PM
Created: October 08, 2018 06:16 PM
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