Kaila Huffman faces down Gillette Main Street holding a sign that reads, “Pedophilia is not okay! Don’t silence the victims.”
Over a dozen people stood scattered along the courthouse steps Thursday publicly protesting District Court Judge John Perry’s approval of the Attorney Wirthwein’s decision to lighten the sentence of a Gillette man recently charged with multiple counts of sexual child abuse.
In response to this occurrence, Gillette native, Jordan Engdahl, took to Facebook where she and a group of other “outraged” community members organized a protest against offering plea deals to sexual child abusers in Campbell County.
“I think it’s absolutely unacceptable that his sentence was decreased like that,” Jordan said. “He abused young girls for a year straight and he’s walking away with a mere slap on the wrist.”
Jordan voiced her belief that the most effective way to combat sexual child abuse in the state is systematically.
In light of the plea deal, Jordan requested Perry and Wirthwein’s resignations as well as state legislation that restricts sexual abusers of children from being offered plea bargains.
Gillette mother of three young girls, Kaila Huffman, also attended the protest hoping to “eliminate the leniency that we’re seeing the courts give pedophiles.”
Huffman said that known sex offenders should not be allowed near children, period.
Though Huffman believes that rehabilitation is possible for these individuals, she said she doesn’t prioritize a predator’s redemption over a victim’s safety.
“I do think the people committing these crimes need help,” Huffman said. “But the only way to ensure that they aren’t hurting more children is to keep them away from all children: lock them up.”
Huffman also attended the protest to show support to victims of sexual assault, she said.
“I hope the girl who was hurt in this case – and any other victims – see what we’re doing today,” she added. “I want them to know that Judge Perry might think these actions are acceptable, but we don’t.”
With a similar agenda, resident Jonathan Fishbeck also stood with the group to send a statement to the community, since he believes that Perry’s sentencing contributes to the normalization of sexually abusing children.
“Judges and prosecutors have been so much easier on pedophiles within the last few years,” he said. “If there’s any place on Earth that a message like this shouldn’t be sent, it’s Gillette, Wyoming.”
Fishbeck went on to share a story about his female friend who, he said, was sentenced to five years in prison by Perry, after she was charged with selling marijuana.
“I understand that everyone is supposed to follow all laws, but not all crimes are equal,” Fishbeck said.
“We live in a town where pot dealers are sent to prison and child molesters can walk.” – Fishbeck
The protesters stood on the courthouse steps for about an hour before moving their rally to the corner of S. Douglas Highway and Boxelder Road, where they protested for an additional three hours.
Jordan said she thought at that location passersby could “get a better look at us.”
The group will be holding a similar protest at 5 p.m. on Saturday in the Walgreens parking lot, she added.
Wirthwein could not be reached for comment. Perry declined to comment.
Editor’s Note: It is the policy of County 17 not to name those accused or convicted of a crime when that information could be used to infer the identity of a minor victim.