An Idaho man was sentenced to 11 years and three months in federal prison after he drove to the Tri-Cities with a gift of Skittles to have sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Kenneth W. Allison was met instead by police officers at a Tri-City park.
U.S. Judge Sal Mendoza Jr. said that the sentence was justified given the circumstances.
Although Allison of Rathdrum did not meet up with a child in the Tri-Cities, he had abused other children in the past, the judge said Friday in federal court in Richland.
Allison admitted under questioning during a polygraph test that he molested even younger girls and used them to make pornography.
Mendoza said there’s little doubt what Allison would have done if a 13-year-old had showed up to meet him, and Allison interrupted the judge to agree.
Federal prosecutors recommended the 11-year term. His public defender, Colin Prince, asked for 7 1/2 years.
Allison, 36, accepted a plea agreement, pleading guilty to travel with intent to engage in illicit sexual conduct. A second charge of attempted enticement of a minor was dropped.
He was arrested last September after responding to an online ad for sex and began emailing and texting a person he believed to be a 13-year-old in Kennewick. In fact, it was an undercover officer.
He drove three hours to meet her in the Tri-Cities, reserved a hotel room and brought along the Skittles and condoms he promised, said U.S. Assistant Attorney David M. Herzog.
“There is no excuse for my behavior,” Allison told the judge. “There is no one to blame but myself. There are no words to express how unbelievably sorry I am.”
His sister told the judge that Allison had lost a battle with his attraction to children a year ago “but I do not for one minute believe he has lost the battle now.”
His family loves him “and will put him on the right path if you will let us,” she said. His mother sobbed and clutched her daughter’s hand during the hearing.
Allison’s attorney said he came to Kennewick during a low point in his life. He was devastated and depressed after a divorce.
He argued Allison wanted help and tried to bring up his attraction to children during a counseling session.
Herzog was skeptical. He argued Allison’s concern was that his behavior would bring shame on him, not harm to children.
Allison knew he risked walking into a sting operation, but wanted the encounter enough to try to meet her anyway, Herzog said.
Mendoza said he weighed how horrifying it is for the community to know that predators are searching out young kids and decided the 11-year sentence was in line with what similar offenders receive.
He said Allison appeared to be trying to change and wished him well.
Allison will be on probation for 25 years and cannot contact anyone under 18, including family members, until he has undergone treatment.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day's top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter