Blaine County man faces up to life in prison after he allegedly sent lewd photos to and had sex with a 13-year-old boy at a Ketchum retail business he is affiliated with.
Craig H. Lee, 47, was arraigned Wednesday in 5th District Magistrate Court in Hailey on two charges of felony rape of a minor under 16.
Lee was arrested by Blaine County sheriff’s deputies and Ketchum police Tuesday afternoon. Assisted by detectives from the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force of Boise, police served warrants Tuesday at Lee’s residence on Blue Bird Circle south of Bellevue and at Tater Tots, a Ketchum children’s clothing boutique he is a part owner of. Lee was not at either location but was located and arrested later in the day, the Sheriff’s Office reported.
According to a police report filed by Blaine County Detective Kristen Quinton, Lee and the boy exchanged nude photos on the gay dating application Grindr on Sept. 8 before agreeing to meet on Sept. 9. Quinton’s report states that the boy told police he met Lee after regular business hours at Tater Tots on Sept. 9. The report states that the boy informed Lee he was a minor. The boy told police that he and Lee then engaged in sexual acts in the back of the business and that he once asked Lee to stop, but Lee didn’t, the report states.
Sun Valley Police Chief Walt Femling said Lee’s arrest was part of a larger investigation stemming from an incident in September in which Kevin Carter Donaldson, 23, a seventh-grade teacher at the Community School in Sun Valley, was charged with felony sexual abuse of a child under 16 after allegedly sending nude photos to a Wood River Valley boy on Grindr. Femling said Lee was found to be a second suspect in the investigation, and after police discovered evidence of sexual contact between Lee and the same boy at the Ketchum business, the Ketchum Police Department was handed the case and served warrants for Lee.
In court on Wednesday, Lee appeared solemn in jail garb and at one point expressed confusion as to why he was being charged with two counts of rape. Judge Jennifer Haemmerle replied that there were two charges because there were two alleged instances of the crime on Sept. 9.
Lee told Haemmerle that he has been a Blaine County resident for more than two years and owns property in Ketchum, as well as his partial ownership of Tater Tots.
Lee requested a public defender and Haemmerle granted the request, assigning Cheri Hicks as his attorney.
Haemmerle set Lee’s bond at $150,000, citing the nature of the crimes and Lee’s short tenure in the Wood River Valley. She told Lee he is to have no unsupervised contact with children under the age of 18, unless blood related, and is to have no contact with the alleged victim. Lee broke into tears after hearing Haemmerle’s words.
Haemmerle said she wasn’t sure if Lee would be able to visit the business in which he holds an ownership stake, due to the fact that it is a children’s clothing store. Lee replied that he is in the process of being bought out by the other owners and said he doesn’t visit the store.
Police said the other owners of Tater Tots are not suspects in the case and have cooperated with the investigation.
Lacey Klinges, the majority owner of Tater Tots, told the Idaho Mountain Express that she was shocked and saddened in hearing about the charges and has ordered the closure of the store for a period of time out of respect to the boy and his family.
“My mother and I are heartbroken and completely devastated by the news …,” Klinges and her mother, Kim South, said in a statement to the Mountain Express. “Our deepest sympathy goes out to the victims and affected family and friends, as well as our beloved community.”
Lee is due in court again on Nov. 9 for a preliminary hearing, at which a determination will be made whether prosecutors have adequate evidence to take the case to trial.