- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 12, 2016

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) - A Spearfish man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for traveling to Guatemala to engage in sex acts with boys.

U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Viken sentenced 53-year-old Richard Melanson after a daylong hearing Monday in which two minors testified. Viken said the boys had been “treated like pieces of meat.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Collins said Melanson chose an impoverished part of Central America to exploit. Defense attorney Gary Colbath unsuccessfully argued for a lesser sentence, saying Melanson didn’t physically threaten his victims.

Melanson said the trips to Guatemala were part of fulfilling fantasies related to a midlife crisis. He said he knew what he was doing was wrong.

A Homeland Security investigation concluded Melanson traveled to Guatemala in 2007, 2008 and 2010. Melanson pleaded guilty last August.

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