Man gets 16 years for sexual exploit of child

Honolulu resident lured La Plata County girl on Web

A Honolulu man was sentenced Friday to 16 years in prison for engaging in sexually explicit conversations over the Internet with an 11-year-old La Plata County girl.

Charles Alton Newton III, 46, pleaded guilty to multiple felonies, including sexual exploitation of a child, attempted Internet sexual exploitation of a child and Internet luring of a child.

In addition to serving 16 years in prison, Newton will be placed on intense supervised probation for sexual offenders for a minimum of 10 years to life after he is released.

Newton used email, Internet phone software Skype and live chats to engage in sexually explicit communications with the girl.

He was a family friend and had been in contact with the girl for about two years.

The girl, who is now 14, stood on her tiptoes to see over the podium in the courtroom on Friday.

“The abuse could have continued, and I am so grateful that it is over now,” she told District Judge Suzanne Carlson. “I do not ever want this vile man to get a chance to hurt anyone else ever again.”

Newton sat perfectly still and stared straight ahead during the hearing. He did not make any statement to the court.

Deputy District Attorney Christian Champagne said Newton had a longtime obsession with the girl’s mother, and he never let go of that infatuation and transferred it to her daughter.

He did some of the most “horrible, sick and twisted” things imaginable while nurturing a long-distance friendship with the girl, Champagne said. The family trusted him, and the girl considered him a father figure.

Psychological evaluations have found Newton to be “extremely intelligent,” Champagne said, which makes the crime even more disturbing.

“He knew what he was doing, and he knew that it was wrong, and he knew it was hurting someone else, and he didn’t stop,” Champagne said. “To put it simply, he’s just not safe to be among us.”

Honolulu authorities arrested Newton on Feb. 14, 2012, on an arrest warrant obtained by the La Plata County Sheriff’s Office.

It was the result of a month-long investigation that uncovered numerous hours of explicit conversations between Newton and the girl that the sheriff’s office described as “unsuitable to be heard by the general public.”

Newton’s public defense lawyer said his client is accepting a severe plea agreement. Newton doesn’t ask for forgiveness, the lawyer said, but he asks the court to consider his life as a whole.

He was physically and sexually abused as a child, he served in the Gulf War and he has no prior criminal record with the exception of a drunken-driving arrest seven years ago.

Judge Carlson said Newton did score high on intelligence tests, and she worries about finding a therapist who is smart enough to handle him upon release. The fact that he is so smart made it an easy crime for him to commit, she said.

“She didn’t stand a chance,” the judge said.

shane@durangoherald.com