Sturgill sentenced in sexting case

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Former West Point man has two more cases pending

By Sarah Bennett

A former West Point man found guilty in June of sending explicit Facebook messages to two teenage girls formally was sentenced Tuesday to five years in prison.

A Hardin County jury found Jimmie Sturgill, 66, guilty of 12 of 16 counts of unlawful use of electronic means to engage a minor in sexual or other prohibited activities.

Though the jury recommended Sturgill serve a five-year sentence, Sturgill’s attorney, Eric Bates, asked for an alternative sentence Tuesday afternoon in Hardin Circuit Court.

Mentioning Sturgill’s health struggles, Bates listed a community-based treatment or house incarceration as alternatives to prison.

The attorney also described Sturgill as a low risk and of no danger to the public.

Sturgill, who has two cases still pending in circuit court, was arrested in July 2011 after police said he sent sexually charged messages to two minor girls over a period of several months. Both girls were younger than 16 — the age of consent in Kentucky — and one was a foster child living in Sturgill’s home.

Despite initially admitting to the allegations during a police interview, the defendant thereafter denied sending the messages and said he made the confession because he felt intimidated.

Though he acknowledged there was no allegation of physical contact and this marks Sturgill’s first felony conviction, Hardin Circuit Judge Ken Howard ultimately moved forward with the jury’s recommendation.

“It is a concern to the court that Mr. Sturgill still does not acknowledge the criminality of his conduct,” Howard said.

Sturgill will reach parole eligibility after serving 20 percent of his sentence.

In addition to the five-year sentence, he also must register for life as a Kentucky Sex Offender.

Sturgill, who is lodged at Hardin County Detention Center, faces charges of first-degree sexual abuse and first-degree sodomy in his two remaining cases in circuit court. The next case is set for jury trial Feb. 27.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at 270-505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.