Roanoke man sentenced in sex solicitation with a minor case
WOODSTOCK — A Roanoke man was sentenced to three years behind bars Wednesday after he pleaded guilty in April to six charges including using a computer to solicit a minor and child endangerment.
In July 2016, Justin Alexander Barger, 19, took his grandmother’s car from Roanoke to meet up with a 14-year-old Strasburg girl whom he had met online at 4 a.m. “under the guise of taking her to McDonald’s,” Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola said at the sentencing hearing.
Barger, with the girl in the passenger seat, was speeding on the trip to the McDonald’s in Woodstock when an officer tried to pull him over. Barger tried to flee and, while eluding police, he lost control of the vehicle and crashed it into the Shenandoah Probation and Parole building.
As part of a plea agreement, he pleaded guilty in April to sexual solicitation with a minor by computer, child endangerment, eluding police, reckless driving of more than 20 mph over the speed limit, driving without a license and destruction of property. A sentencing hearing was scheduled for Wednesday to allow time for a sex offender evaluation to be conducted.
“He put this girl’s life in danger,” Campola said, asking for a more severe sentence.
Text messages between the two showed that they were aware of the age difference. Barger’s attorney, Charles Ramsey, argued that there was evidence that showed the girl had said that she was older at the start of their relationship, and that Barger had trouble stopping once he knew.
Ramsey added that Barger had a “challenging childhood,” and that he has an extensive history of substance abuse because of it. He also recommended substance abuse and psychological treatment for Barger along with a lighter jail sentence.
“In light of what he’s been through, I think there’s reason to be somewhat lenient,” Ramsey said.
Before he was sentenced, Barger apologized to “the people I’ve hurt,” and said that once he’s released, he will work to better himself, get a job and build a bond with his family.
Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp sentenced Barger to a total of 10 years–nine in prison and one in jail–with two years and 12 months to serve. He also imposed a total of $100 in fines. Barger must pay over $11,000 in restitution because of the property and vehicle damage incurred.
He must complete three years of supervised probation upon his release, undergo sex offender treatment and register as a sex offender. Barger is also banned from any unsupervised contact with a girl younger than 18 unless they are family.