Joseph Loertscher

Joseph Loertscher

An Idaho Falls man who was on probation in a child sex abuse case is going to prison after he reportedly sent sexual messages to teen girls.

Joseph Loertscher, 23, completed the rider program and was released in April 2019. He had pleaded guilty to child sex abuse after he admitted to asking underage girls to send him nude photos, receiving more than 200.

During the sentencing, Former Bonneville County Chief Deputy Prosecutor John Dewey noted Loertscher had previously been warned about having contact with underage girls but had continued to contact them anyway.

District Judge Dane Watkins Jr. expressed his disappointment to Loertscher as he imposes the underlying sentence.

“The court is not at all comfortable with doing anything less than revoking (the probation),” Watkins said.

Loertscher admitted to each alleged violation as the judge explained them. He admitted that he had engaged in sexual roleplaying with between five and seven teenagers between the ages of 16 and 17. He also admitted to having contact with a 12-year-old girl and communicating with her for a week before breaking off contact.

Loertscher also admitted to having several unauthorized digital devices with which he accessed the internet. Under the terms of his probation, he could only own such devices with the knowledge and permission of his probation officer. He also admitted to using these devices to access pornographic websites.

Loertscher reportedly struggled to maintain full-time employment, a requirement of his probation, though he did have a part-time job at a restaurant. He also had his sex offender treatment put on hold due to lack of payment, which Loertscher and his attorney, Rocky Wixom, tied to his employment struggles.

Bonneville County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Russell Spencer argued that if Loertscher could afford the computers he had, he should have been able to pay for his sex offender treatment.

Spencer said the more serious issue was that Loertscher contacted minors.

Wixom argued the contact was not serious because it was limited to the internet. He also said Loertscher’s employment difficulties were due in part to the global pandemic, which hurt the food service industry.

Loertscher asked the judge to keep him on probation, saying he had considered where he had gone wrong and that he had family to help him succeed in the community.

Watkins agreed with the prosecution, however, that the violations were too serious to leave Loertscher on probation. He agreed that Loertscher’s difficulty paying for sex offender treatment may be tied to his employment struggles, but said unemployment in Idaho was low despite the coronavirus pandemic.

“Without treatment, the only way the court can keep the community safe is incarceration,” Watkins said.

Loertscher’s underlying sentence was two to 15 years in prison.