Former Marine ordered to register as sex offender for soliciting minor
WOODSTOCK – A former U.S. Marine must register as a sex offender and pay a fine but serve no jail time after a jury found him guilty of soliciting an underage girl he met in an online dating site in 2016.
Timothy Ducharme, 23, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, appeared for a sentencing hearing in Shenandoah County Circuit Court on Monday. Judge Dennis L. Hupp upheld the jury’s verdict and sentenced Ducharme to pay a $2,500 for soliciting a minor by use of a communications system.
A jury on Nov. 29 found Ducharme guilty of soliciting a sexual offense with a 15-year-old girl via an electronic communications device. The jury found Ducharme not guilty of having consensual sex with a minor over the age of 15. Hupp dismissed Ducharme’s charge of possession of child pornography mid-trial after determining the photos in question did not appear sexually explicit.
“I just don’t feel that justice was served, your honor,” Ducharme said before Hupp rendered the sentence. “My definition of justice is an eye for an eye. I don’t think I should be convicted of a crime that’s going to follow me around for the rest of my life.”
Hupp also ordered Ducharme to register with the state police as a sex offender. The judge withheld enforcement of the order while Ducharme pursues his right to appeal the verdict.
At the beginning of the hearing, Hupp heard a motion from Ducharme’s attorney Charles B. Ramsey to set aside the jury’s verdict from the Nov. 29 trial. Ramsey argued in support of his motion that the court erred in denying his client’s Fourth Amendment motion filed in August. Ramsey also argued that the court erred in denying his client’s version of a jury instruction at trial.
Hupp heard arguments from Ramsey and Deputy County Attorney Louis Campola regarding the motion. Hupp considered the motion and the arguments in his chambers then returned to say he stood by his rulings from the August hearing and concerning the jury instructions at trial.
Hupp allowed Ramsey to remain Ducharme’s court-appointed counsel through the appeals process should the defendant choose to appeal the case. Ramsey said his client intends to appeal.
Ramsey told the judge Ducharme had been administratively separated from the U.S. Marine Corps and did not go through a court-martial or other action.
The jury could have sentenced Ducharme to one to five years in prison or up to 12 months in jail and fine of no more than $2,500. The jury returned and told Hupp they could not reach a unanimous decision. Hupp read a special jury instruction, known as the Allen charge, to encourage panelists to remain open to other jurors’ opinions but not to concede their position just to reach a unanimous verdict. The jury returned and recommended the court order Ducharme to pay a $2,500 fine. The jury did not recommend any time of incarceration in reaching a sentence.