Updated 02/19/2013 03:01 PM
Former Hillside Youth Counselor Sentenced
The former employee at the Hillside Children's Center who pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with a teen was sentenced Tuesday.
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Prosecutor Kyle Rossi said he thinks 29-year-old Matthew King deserved state prison time for the crimes he committed. But he believes King was given a fair sentence.
King pleaded guilty in December to five counts of criminal sexual act and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child. He was sentenced to six months in the Monroe County Jail and 10 years of sex offender probation.
King had been a youth counselor at Hillside Children's Center for a year and half. That's where he met a 15-year-old boy and had sexual contact with him on several occasions.
Rossi said King also had inappropriate contact with another teenage boy from Hillside, buying him alcohol and allowing him to access pornography at his home.
"He was in a position to counsel kids already at risk and instead of doing that, he exposed them to things they did not need to be exposed to. It certainly undermined the basic mission of Hillside to begin with," said Rossi.
King's attorney told the court her client had never been arrested before, took responsibility for his crimes, and never forced anyone to have sex with him.
When he had a chance to speak, King told the judge he can't explain or defend what happened. He said, it was a "serious error in judgement" that didn't reflect his character. He then said, "this will not define me."
King has already started serving his six-month jail time. He'll then be under the strictest restrictions of the law in that decade-long probation. Rossi says he'll probably have to then register as a sex offender for life.
"Reasonable minds can disagree on what the best sentence would be in a case like this. At the end of the day the system worked. The process did its job and that's to reach something that's going to protect the community, ensure that a person doesn't re-offend and also treat a defendant fairly," said Rossi.
"Hillside Family of Agencies never tolerates behaviors that compromise the safety, security, and well-being of children and youth in our care. We fervently uphold this policy as we did when we initially learned of Mr. King’s allegations.
We continue to keep the families impacted by Mr. King’s actions in our thoughts and we will always work tirelessly to protect and support the children and youth we serve."