By Associated Press - Saturday, June 27, 2020

BOISE, Idaho (AP) - A former Idaho budget director has been sentenced to 90 days in jail and 10 years of supervised probation after he pleaded guilty to willfully possessing or accessing child sexually exploitative material.

Fourth District Court Judge Lynn Norton sentenced 77-year-old Martin Peterson earlier this week after he agreed to a plea deal in January, The Idaho Press reported.

Peterson was charged with 14 counts of sexual exploitation of a child dating back to 2015, but 12 of the charges were dismissed in the plea agreement, prosecutors said.

“I want to apologize to my family, my friends, the public and the justice system for my actions,” Peterson said.

Prosecutors asked for three fixed years in prison, with another seven possible. Each count was punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Prosecutor Katelyn Farley argued Peterson accessed child pornography websites and viewed pictures of children ages 10 to 12 for about four years, involving more than 6,000 images.

Peterson’s defense attorney David Leroy pointed out that Peterson had spent most of his life not just obeying the laws of the state of Idaho, but contributing to the state itself.

Peterson worked as budget director under former Govs. John Evans and Cecil Andrus, and served on the staff of Democratic U.S. Sen. Frank Church.

Peterson, a University of Idaho graduate, also served on the university’s School of Journalism and Mass Media advisory board, the Friends of Idaho Public Television board and as the president for the Foundation for Idaho History. Peterson was also special assistant to the university president and interim director of the James A. McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

Peterson’s accomplishments, “certainly should show the court … the nobility of his character outside this deviance which he has freely admitted later in life,” Leroy said.

The sentence also requires that Peterson register as a sex offender, stay at least 100 feet (30 meters) from children and avoid contact with anyone under the age of 18.

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