Court News

Sep 29, 2011 10:20 AM by Amanda Venegas (KTVQ Billings)

Montana child molester sentenced under Jessica's Law

BILLINGS- Wrenching facts and emotional testimony filled a Billings courtroom Wednesday for the sentencing of 26-year-old Jimmy Gauna. The convicted child molester will spend 50 years behind bars after raping an 11-year-old Billings boy.

"Jonathon was lured and groomed by the defendant who's manipulative. The defendant used his skills as a sex offender and manipulator to gain Jonathon's trust and he took advantage of him," said Yellowstone Deputy County Attorney Juli Pierce.

Emotions ran high at the sentencing of Gauna, who admitted raping an eleven-year-old Billings boy after befriending him in person and connecting with him through video games.

"Then on March 3 of 2010, he seized his opportunity to steal Jonathon's innocence and the life that he once knew," Pierce said.

On that day, Gauna meet the victim after school and raped him in a nearby ditch.

On Wednesday in District Judge Todd Baugh's courtroom, the victim's psychotherapist testified saying the assault has greatly affected his life and he now deals with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Yellowstone County Deputy Attorney Juli Pierce outlined in closing arguments Gauna's history as a repeat and dangerous pedophile, which dates back to the age of 10 when he first offended his four-year-old cousin.

"Unfortunately the defendant has left in his wake, a string of victims and destruction for the past 16 years," Pierce said.

Pierce also told the courtroom that because Gauna molested a child under the age of 12 as an adult, he faced the stiff penalties of Jessica's law. It requires a mandatory minimum 25 years behind bars for convicted offenders.

"The defendant has been given every single opportunity in the past for treatment and rehabilitation and he has failed miserably to take advantage of those opportunities. Jimmy J. Gauna is the reason Montana has enacted Jessica's law," Pierce said.

Before the ruling, Gauna's defense told the courtroom his client had suffered a medical condition as a young child and had also been molested at the age of eleven. The courtroom then fell to silent as Gauna made his last statement.

Sorry," Gauna said and paused saying, "I ruined his life."

Judge Baugh then sentenced 26-year-old Jimmy J. Gauna to 100 years at the Montana State Prison with 50 years suspended for a felony charge of sexual intercourse without consent. He ordered him to pay restitution and designated Gauna as a level three sexual offender, the highest risk to re-offend.

"You're going to be have supervised 24/7 for the rest of your life. This sentence is simply necessary for the protection of children in this society," said District Judge Todd Baugh.

The county attorney's office says although it was a historic day seeing the first Jessica's Law case sentenced in Yellowstone County, it also serves as a tough reminder to predators.

"If you commit crimes that qualify under Jessica's law, the Yellowstone County Attorney's Office will do everything in its power to apply that law," said Yellowstone County Attorney Scott Twito.

Deputy Attorney Juli Pierce also praised the young man, calling him a "hero" for coming forward. The county attorney's office has tried five other individuals with Jessica's law, but Gauna is the only person to be convicted.

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