An 87-year-old Moscow registered sex offender was sentenced Tuesday in Latah County Second District Court to six years in prison, including two years fixed, for felony lewd conduct with a minor younger than 16.
Donald Romine, who sat Tuesday in a wheelchair wearing an orange Latah County Jail jumpsuit and an assisted hearing device over his ears, inappropriately touched a child more than once and admitted to the actions, according to a probable cause affidavit.
He pleaded guilty June 24 to the lewd conduct charge and has been in jail since March 20. Lewd conduct with a minor in Idaho carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Latah County Second District Court Judge John Judge accepted a Rule 11 plea agreement made between the defense and prosecution. The agreement allowed Judge a great deal of discretion when imposing the sentence.
“You’ve caused a lot of harm to innocent children who trusted you and you took advantage of that trust, and they will live with that harm, and you will live with that harm,” Judge said.
He said there were several factors, including Romine’s age, that made sentencing difficult.
“You’re 87 years old and you’re in terrible health, and I understand that prison is probably not the healthiest place for you,” Judge said.
He said Romine’s obsession to touch children is “very troubling,” and that even at 86 — the age he committed the crime — Romine is still a danger to children.
Judge also ordered Romine to pay a $5,000 civil fine to the victim.
“I am humbly sorry for the mess I’ve caused,” said Romine, who stood to address the court.
He said he was “stupid” and a “complete idiot” for what he did and that he promised to never go near a child again.
Latah County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Ashley Jennings asked that Judge impose a 10-year prison sentence, including five years fixed.
Romine’s attorney, Latah County Public Defender Ray Barker, requested six months fixed and two years indeterminate, which would have allowed Romine to be eligible for parole in one month because of his time already served in jail.
According to a doctor’s psychosexual evaluation of Romine, Jennings read that, “Donald would clearly be diagnosed with pedophilia,” and that despite his advanced age, Romine would likely act out sexually if given access to children. She said the doctor advised that Romine should not be around children.
The only environment that would prevent access to children is prison, Jennings said.
She said Romine was convicted on previous lewd conduct charges in the early 2000s and served 10½ years in prison for those crimes. There are additional allegations against Romine but he has not been charged, Jennings said.
Barker said Romine could not resist the temptation to touch the child, mentioning curiosity as one factor, and that Romine agreed that he should never be around children.
Barker said Romine wants to rent a trailer from an acquaintance in a remote part of north Idaho, where he would allegedly be away from children, and live alone with his dog. He said Romine is nearly deaf, in bad health and any significant prison time would likely lead to death.
A family member of Romine’s asked Judge that he allow Romine to live with her, which is also in a remote part of Idaho, or that he be placed in an Idaho Department of Correction work camp in St. Anthony.
Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to email@example.com.