A judge last week sentenced Andy Vogt of Mt. Vernon to 15 years of probation — with prison time possible — after he admitted to meeting a 15-year-old Eagle, Idaho, girl online and taking her back to his home last fall.
Idaho’s Fourth District Court Judge Jonathan Medema acknowledged the case against Vogt, 48, was not the “horror story of charges” police and prosecutors once believed it was. Initially, police believed Vogt in October contacted the girl online, drove to her house a week later, forced her into his truck at gunpoint and drove her back to his home in Mt. Vernon. Vogt initially faced two felony charges, including kidnapping, which carries a possibility of up to life in prison.
Yet as Tanner Stellmon, the case’s prosecutor, said in court April 10, police were unable to corroborate that story. Instead, as Vogt’s attorney Charles Peterson pointed out, they learned the girl, who lives with schizophrenia and has a prescription for antipsychotic medication, claimed to be 19 years old online when she messaged Vogt. She sneaked away from her parents’ home at about 8 p.m. that night, met up with Vogt and went to Oregon voluntarily, Peterson explained.
The kidnapping charge has since been dismissed, and he instead pleaded guilty to lewd conduct with a child younger than 16.
“She portrayed herself as a young woman from Eagle, Idaho, who lived here but was looking for dates and was, in fact, 19 years old,” Peterson said.
Nevertheless, Peterson acknowledged Vogt should have known the girl was not 19 years old. As the adult, he said, Vogt still bore the responsibility in the situation; Stellmon agreed.
“The defendant was more concerned in this case with the victim’s willingness to engage with him sexually than he was with her age,” Stellmon said. “She was willing and that was enough for him.”
Despite that, neither Vogt nor the girl claimed they engaged sexually during the days they spent at his home. They said they watched old movies and played video games.
Deputies from the Ada County Sheriff’s Office worked to find the girl once her father reported her missing, and they worked with the Grant County Sheriff’s Office, the Oregon State Police and the FBI to trace her to his home.
“It turns out she comes to the door and suddenly she’s not 19. ... It turns out she’s 15 and she wants to go home and he tells detectives, ‘I didn’t know that,’” Peterson said.
Medema, too, said the charge Vogt pleaded guilty to, lewd conduct with a child younger than 16 years old, is a serious one, even though police found no further evidence he kidnapped the girl at gunpoint.
He cited Vogt’s lack of criminal history, and a psychologist’s finding he was not likely to commit another sex crime, in handing down a 15-year suspended prison sentence in the case. He also sentenced Vogt to another four months in jail, noting it mirrors the amount of time Vogt would have spent on a rider term. If he fails probation or does not complete sex offender treatment, he faces the prison term.
Vogt apologized to the girl in his address to the court, and thanked his girlfriend and his family, who sat in the courtroom pews behind him, for their support during the 155 days he spent in the Ada County Jail.
As Peterson said not long before Vogt’s words, the case “should cause anybody who hears about it to think twice about the things they see on the internet.”