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Saturday, January 20, 2018

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Glendive man sentenced to 120 years in prison for incest

By Jason Stuart

Ranger-Review Staff Writer

A Glendive man was sentenced to 120 years in state prison last Friday after pleading guilty to 20 individual counts of incest.

Darrin W. Clinton, 48, was sentenced by Judge Richard Simonton to 100 years in the Montana State Prison for one count of incest under subsection 5 of the state criminal code, with eligibility for parole in 25 years. For the other 19 counts, set under subsection 4 of the criminal code, Clinton was sentenced to 20 years for each count with 10 years suspended, with the sentences on those 19 counts to run concurrently, which essentially creates a 10-year sentence for all those counts. However, Simonton ordered the sentences for count one and the other 19 counts to run consecutively, which resulted in the total sentence of 120 years with 10 years suspended with eligibility for parole in 30 years.

Clinton was arrested in June of 2016. He was initially charged with 136 counts of incest for committing sexual acts with two juvenile males over a period of two years. Simonton noted during the sentencing that both boys were 12 years old when Clinton first began his sexual relationship with them.

Simonton also noted during his sentencing a letter sent to the court by Clinton’s wife, who had asked he receive the maximum penalty under the law. 

Clinton’s defense attorney, Ali Moulton, had asked that Simonton consider granting Clinton exceptions to the state’s mandatory minimum sentence for incest, arguing that Clinton’s “abandonment issues” by his father, his unexpressed and repressed “homosexual thoughts” as a teenager and “religious issues” created “enough confusion” in Clinton’s mind to grant him an exception to the mandatory sentence for “mental impairment.” 

Moulton also tried to paint a picture of Clinton as an accomplished person with no prior criminal history. She repeatedly stressed his past accomplishments as a former major in the U.S. Army and instructor at the United States Military Academy at West Point, a holder of a master’s degree in chemistry, a formerly respected lay pastor, and even repeatedly noted that he had learned to speak Korean.

“We’re talking about a defendant who has no prior criminal history, but has readily admitted his wrongdoing,” Moulton said. “He has owned up to what he’s done.”

Clinton was a former director of the Glendive Dinosaur and Fossil Museum and was a frequent guest speaker and lay pastor at several area churches.

Moulton also argued that if given the maximum sentence, Clinton would not receive sex offender treatment in a timely manner because he would be put at the bottom of the state prison’s wait list for that treatment because his release from prison would be decades away.

With those arguments, Moulton asked for a 50-year sentence with 30 years suspended.

Deputy County Attorney Brett Irigoin, by contrast, delivered a fiery speech in which he damned Clinton. Irigoin expressed particular offense that during his interviews with sex offender evaluators, Clinton had expressed that he thought he was “helping” the two boys uncover and express their sexuality by engaging in a sexual relationship with them. Those evaluators, who testified during the sentencing hearing, also both said Clinton told them he thought the boys had initiated the sexual contact.

“It’s clear the children are immeasurably damaged and to read their mother’s account of what happened to them is deeply upsetting,” Irigoin said. “I don’t know that there is a sentencing standard that could punish him commiserate with the damage he inflicted on those boys.”

Irigoin also had harsh words for those who sent letters to the court asking for leniency for Clinton, including letters sent by a few area pastors.

“Those who wrote letters in support of him spoke of forgiveness, even God’s forgiveness, but forgiveness has no bearing on whether someone will re-offend and it has no bearing on the sentencing guidelines for the state of Montana,” he said. “We know now that the man sitting here is a predator who masqueraded as a man of God.”

Irigoin even asked Simonton to consider a harsher sentence than the mandatory minimum, noting that sentencing guidelines allow for that in “aggravating circumstances.”

“As a father and a son, I think every circumstance of this case is aggravating,” he said. “... I ask for the court to consider an even stiffer sentence considering the absolutely egregious nature of the acts.”

Before his final sentence was read, Clinton made a brief statement expressing regret for his actions.

“I’m profoundly sorry for what I did and how I hurt my family. I’m ashamed of what I did,” Clinton said. “I don’t know what I can say your honor other than I am completely, profoundly sorry.”

 

Reach Jason Stuart at rrreporter@rangerreview.com.

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