Ogden • For 2nd District Judge Ernie Jones, how to sentence a former teacher and Boy Scout leader for possessing child pornography boiled down to one question: Is he a threat to the community?
Attorneys painted two very different pictures of Kenneth William Prince during his four-hour sentencing hearing Thursday: Prosecutors portrayed him as a sexually deviant man who took pictures of nude Boy Scouts during camping trips over a 30-year period, while defense attorneys instead told of a man who was a great teacher and leader, whose own abuse experiences and mental health issues caused him to struggle with his own sexual identity.
But ultimately, Judge Jones decided that Prince was indeed a danger to the community, and sentenced the former Ogden teacher to five concurrent 1-to-15 year prison terms.
“On the surface, Mr. Prince seems like a nice guy,” Jones said just before handing down the sentence. “But my impression after reading all the reports is that under the surface, there is a totally different person.”
Prince, 61, pleaded guilty in February to five counts of second-degree felony sexual exploitation of a minor. As part of a plea deal, prosecutors dismissed another case where Prince was charged with two counts of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
In that case, the alleged abuse victim, now 42 years old, told a South Ogden police officer that Prince performed sexual acts on him multiple times when he was between 12 and 17 years old, according to a probable cause statement filed in court.
Prince admitted to that abuse, and admitted to having a number of child pornography images on his home computer — found after family members contacted police in September.
Deputy Weber County Attorney Letitia Toombs told the judge Thursday that one of the images found at Prince’s home was an old printed picture that appeared to have been taken in the 1980s by Prince of a young Boy Scout “mooning” the camera. She said Prince allegedly admitted to using that photo for sexual gratification.
Toombs also told the judge that after Prince’s arrest was reported in the media, South Ogden police were “inundated” with calls from other potential victims. She advocated for a prison sentence, but added that the victim in the case — who wasn’t in court Thursday — didn’t have a particular recommendation.
“He said he has moved on,” Toombs said. “He has moved past it. He’s going to leave this up to the criminal justice system. He just wants the community and his son to be safe.”
But Prince’s attorneys pointed out that no further charges had been filed against their client regarding any new allegations, and asked the judge instead to focus on the crimes to which Prince had plead guilty to. They asked for 210 days in jail and the opportunity to continue therapy.
“When confronted [by police], he was honest,” defense attorney Stephen Farr said. “He was responsible. I think there is a good side to Ken Prince.”
Farr told the judge that he himself was also a Scout leader, and had worked side-by-side with Prince more than 30 years ago. He said his client was a great teacher and Scout leader — “the best there ever was.”
“I never saw that,” Farr said of any sexual deviancy. “There was no sexual misbehavior. He was just an Indiana Jones-type. Just an adventurer.”
Prince said in court Thursday that he “wanted to express his sorrow” to the abuse victim, and said he took the plea deal so the man would not have to testify. He asked the judge for mercy, saying he wanted to continue therapy and work toward repairing relationships within his family.
“I know I’ve been needing [help,]” he said. “…I’ve been living a lie for some period of time.”
The day after Prince was arrested, the former science teacher bailed out of jail and tried to kill himself by ingesting mercury, according to police.
After that suicide attempt, he was charged in 1st District Court with misdemeanor reckless endangerment and use or possession of a psychotoxic chemical. An arraignment has been set in that case for May 27.
The suicide attempt delayed Prince’s initial court appearance in the child porn case because health officials recommended he be quarantined to prevent the risk of contaminating others with mercury poisoning, according to court documents.
Prince was employed as a teacher at South Ogden Junior High School from 1979 to 2008. Police said he also had been a Boy Scout leader for many years in the South Ogden area.