Our View | A Tale of Two Plea Deals, One of Them Disturbing

By The Signal Editorial Board

The two Superior Court plea deals provided an interesting and potentially disturbing juxtaposition of how our court system handles crime and punishment.

On Wednesday, a Long Beach man pleaded no contest to a felony count of attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child, and a misdemeanor count of indecent exposure.

The two charges were among six that had been filed against 40-year-old Jeff Boulter in connection with an incident at a Valencia wedding reception last year. Boulter was accused of leading a 5-year-old child into a dark corner at the reception, exposing himself and attempting to sexually assault the child.

A server at the wedding reception saw what was happening and intervened. The suspect fled.

In pleading no contest, Boulter did not admit guilt — but “no contest” pleas result in convictions, because the defendant has chosen not to mount a defense.

So, we have a 40-year-old pleading no contest on a felony charge of trying to molest a 5-year-old and a related misdemeanor indecent exposure charge. What’s the logical sentence? There’s got to be prison time, right?

Apparently not.

The court ordered him to complete a year of “sex-impulse counseling” and return for his official sentencing in March 2020. 

He was set free. If he violates any terms or conditions of his plea, he faces four years in prison.

Meanwhile, in the same San Fernando courthouse, Robert Wayne Mount, 52, of Newhall, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading no contest in August to five weapons charges relating to a 2017 domestic disturbance incident that culminated in a four-hour standoff between Mount and responding sheriff’s deputies. 

Mount never fired a shot, but was accused of threatening two victims with a semiautomatic weapon during the domestic incident, and once he was arrested, he was charged with more than 60 counts related to firearms. It seems Mr. Mount had quite a stockpile of weapons in his home, including — are you ready for this? — a Browning Machine Gun. 

He pleaded no contest to two machine gun possession and conversion charges, and also to assault with a semiautomatic firearm; assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury; and unlawful assault weapon/.50 BMG rifle activity.

So, does the punishment fit the crime? Seems reasonable enough, right? Regardless of one’s position on our Second Amendment rights to bear arms (we are generally in favor), it’s also clear that no private citizen needs a machine gun. 

And, if you’re going to go threatening people with semiautomatic weapons and holding law enforcement officers at bay for four hours, you should expect to do some time, even if you never fire a shot.

So, we’re not saying Mount’s sentence seems out of line. What we are saying, however, is that it provides a pretty stark contrast to the de facto sentence for the man who tried to molest a 5-year-old child. That the two outcomes occurred on the same day just made the molestation case seem all the more odd: A man pleads no contest to attempting to molest a 5-year-old child and the court orders him to… sex-impulse therapy?

And all he has to do to avoid prison is go to therapy and be on his best behavior for a year (read: avoid molesting kids) and he will, almost certainly, avoid a prison sentence?

The information provided by the district attorney’s office did little to ease the unsettling feeling one gets when hearing about what happened in court on Wednesday: He hasn’t officially been sentenced yet.

Yes, that won’t happen until more than a year from now. Meanwhile, he walks free. 

It’s a head scratcher to say the least. Are our prisons so overcrowded that there isn’t room for someone who exposes himself to, and tries to sexually assault, a 5-year-old child?

We’re hoping there are some compelling behind-the-scenes factors that affected the way the court and the district attorney’s office are handling this case — because on the face of it, there’s something terribly wrong with this picture.  

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