Former Passages worker sentenced for rape

2012-11-07T11:04:00Z 2012-11-29T19:35:28Z Former Passages worker sentenced for rapeBy ZACH BENOIT zbenoit@billingsgazette.com The Billings Gazette

A former inmate supervisor at a women's pre-release and treatment center in Billings was sentenced Wednesday for raping two women while he worked there.

As part of a joint recommendation of prosecutors and his defense attorney, District Judge Susan Watters sentenced Paul Steven Franklin, 30, to 20 years in the Montana State Prison, with 15 years suspended, for felony sexual intercourse without consent.

She also sentenced Franklin to six months for misdemeanor sexual assault. That term will run concurrently with the prison sentence.  She also ordered him to complete sex offender treatment programs and designated him a Level II sex offender.

"Mr. Franklin recognizes his poor choices and is accepting responsibility for his behavior," said his attorney, Lance Lundvall.

Court documents say Franklin worked as an adviser at Passages, a corrections facility for women on South 27th Street that contracts with the Montana Women's Prison and is run by Alternatives Inc.

An inmate at the center told investigators that in December 2010, Franklin grabbed her by the throat and made sexually suggestive comments. Several days later, he ordered her into an office and said he would "make things bad" for her if she didn't perform oral sex on him, according to the affidavit.

She complied and shortly after spit semen into a towel, which she later provided to investigators, who matched it to Franklin using a DNA test, court records state.

Another inmate at Passages also reported similar incidents with Franklin, in which he told her he wouldn't write her up or would help her stay out of trouble in exchange for sexual favors, according to court records.

The woman did so on two occasions because she was afraid of getting in more trouble, the documents state.

State law says inmates can't consent to sex with correctional officers or staff members.

In May, Franklin plead guilty to one felony count of sexual intercourse without consent. He did not dispute the misdemeanor sexual-assault charge.

Watters dropped a second felony charge of sexual intercourse without consent as part of the plea deal.

Before Watters sentenced Franklin, one of the victims read a brief statement to the courtroom.

She said that his actions took a physical, mental and emotional toll on her and that she can no longer maintain healthy relationships with people who have authority over her.

Addressing the courtroom, Franklin apologized.

"I'm very, very sorry and I just hope to put this behind me and move on with my life," he said.

Before being led out of the courtroom by a sheriff's deputy, Franklin hugged his wife — who earlier told the courtroom that he'll have a strong support system of family waiting at home — and told her to take care of their family while he is in prison.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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