Simpson receives sentence of up to five years

SUBLETTE COUNTY – A man maintaining his innocence was sentenced to three to five years in prison after taking a plea agreement to avoid a jury trial in 9th District Court.

Joseph R. Simpson changed his plea to guilty of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor on Feb. 11.

On April 1, Judge Marv Tyler followed the sentencing recommendation reached with Sublette County Attorney Mike Crosson, Simpson and public defender Elisabeth Trefonas. Three more victim impact statements were filed on March 31.

Judge Tyler ordered Simpson to pay $583 restitution and gave credit for 181 days in custody.

Simpson had pleaded not guilty to first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and incest, changing his plea to “guilty under Alford” after a third charge of third-degree sexual abuse of a minor was added with the first two to be dismissed.

Simpson used the Alford plea to deny any guilt while understanding a reasonable jury would likely find him guilty, Trefonas said. He faced up to 65 years in prison on the first two charges, she added.

“These are tough cases,” Trefonas said, with chances of acquittal at trial “being 50-50. You never know what’s going to happen at trial. … He shouldn’t serve a single day in jail if he’s innocent.

“Mr. Crosson is looking for justice because he believes the victim.”

She said Crosson believed “the alleged victim” and the jury might also, so while Simpson stated his innocence, he can move forward and make best use of therapy and treatments in prison.

Simpson said he was “very sorry for any effects this has had on anyone – myself, the victims, the parents. My Heavenly Father knows what deeds have been done…”

The two original charges were filed on Nov. 15, 2020, after a child or children described immoral sexual conduct between 2017 and 2019, according to court records.