A local actor will be given a chance at rehabilitation through the Idaho Department of Correction “rider program” following sentencing Monday for the felony crime of sexual abuse of child under 16.
Dawson Albert Howard, 32, of Ketchum, was taken into custody at the conclusion of sentencing in Blaine County 5th District Court. Under the rider program, also referred to as “retained jurisdiction,” a convicted felon can be held for up to a year while undergoing rehabilitation. If the Department of Correction deems that rehabilitation is unsuccessful, then the department can impose a previously suspended prison sentence.
At Monday’s sentencing hearing, Judge Robert J. Elgee also gave Howard a six-year suspended prison sentence, imposed a $1,000 fine and ordered a $5,000 civil penalty that must be paid to the victim.
Howard had been free on $30,000 bond following his arrest in January on a Blaine County grand jury indictment, which originally charged him with one count of rape and one count of lewd conduct with a child under 16. He pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual abuse of a child under 16 in June in accord with a plea agreement with the Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.
The grand jury indictment resulted from an investigation conducted by the Blaine County Sheriff’s Office. The investigation led to allegations that Howard had sex with a 14-year-old girl in 2011 and that he had met the girl when he was a camp counselor with St. Thomas Playhouse, where the girl was enrolled in a drama camp.
“Dawson has led a life of contribution to this community. He has been generous with his time and talent.”
Howard is well-known in the theatrical community in Blaine County, having appeared in numerous plays and musical productions.
At sentencing, Hailey attorney Douglas Werth, assigned as public defender, noted that Howard has no prior criminal history.
“Dawson has led a life of contribution to this community,” Werth said. “He has been generous with his time and talent.
“Dawson has accepted responsibility and he has come clean with what he did,” Werth said. “He has accepted that what he did was wrong. He’s admitted the sexual contact he had with this girl and he’s willing to participate in sex-offender treatment.”
With the conviction, Howard will be required to register as a sex offender.
Terry Smith: email@example.com