Judge denies child enticement defendant's request to postpone sentencing

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An Oahu judge on Wednesday refused to postpone the sentencing of a man convicted of using the Internet to arrange a sexual meeting with a child.

Spencer Gouveia, 23, told Circuit Judge Colette Garibaldi that he enrolled in a sex offender treatment program and wants to complete it before going to prison. His attorney argued that Gouveia is saving the state money because he's paying for the weekly sessions himself.

"Him remaining in the community to finish this treatment program does not put anybody or the community in any danger," William Bento, deputy public defender, said. "With the economic times that we have at this point, why should the state of Hawaii be burdened in paying for the treatment, which we know he has to undergo?"

State prosecutors opposed any delay.

"The state sees no reason now to postpone sentencing and treat Mr. Gouveia differently than anyone else who's been convicted of this offense," Albert Cook, deputy attorney general, said. "Sex offender treatment is provided in custody. That's the appropriate place for Mr. Gouveia to do it."

In a jury-waived trial last November, the defendant was found guilty of one count of first-degree electronic enticement of a child and two counts of indecent electronic display to a child. Gouveia went online and had sexual conversations with an undercover agent, who was posing as a 14-year-old girl. He also sent the "child" images of himself performing sexual acts.

The judge denied the defense's request and handed down a 10-year prison sentence. However, she gave Gouveia two weeks to turn himself in, so that he can attend his grandmother's funeral.

Prosecutors believe Hawaii's mandatory prison sentence for this crime is having an impact.

"It does seem that the frequency is going down," Cook said. "So I think the public awareness and the penalties are having an effect, though there are still some people that are willing to take that risk. I think the solution for that is you just need to incarcerate them and, hopefully, they'll learn their lesson."

Gouveia must surrender February 16, 2011 or face a warrant for his arrest.

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