CEDAR CITY – Blane Scott Fredrick faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty Friday of two first-degree felonies for aggravated sexual abuse of a child.
The 8-member panel deliberated nearly eight hours before coming back with a conviction that carries a possible life sentence in the Utah State Prison. The minimum sentence is 15 years for each count, which for the 56-year-old defendant could result in spending the rest of his life in prison regardless of what sentence the court imposes. Fifth District Judge Keith Barnes scheduled Fredrick’s sentencing June 5 at 9 a.m.
Following the verdict, Chief Deputy County Attorney Mike Edwards asked that Fredrick be immediately taken into custody arguing he posed a threat to the community. Fredrick’s attorney challenged Edwards’ claim by pointing to the fact his client had not presented any problems since his release from jail in 2013. Barnes agreed and denied the county attorney’s request. The judge ordered the defendant to stay away from all minors under the age of 18 and to have no contact with the victim or her family pending sentencing.
The trial began Wednesday in 5th District Court. While Fredrick pled not guilty to the charges, he initially admitted to the accusations during a Cedar City police interview where he told detectives he had touched the vagina of the 9-year-old girl he had been responsible for babysitting. The video of that interview conducted Oct. 20, 2013 was used in court to convict him.
While making his closing argument, the defense attorney tried establishing doubt in the minds of the jury by arguing his client only admitted to the incident after he had been interrogated and pressured to do so. Edwards however, pointed to the fact that Fredrick admitted to the incident in 30 minutes not after hours of interrogation and undue stress.
The defense also argued his client had not sexually abused the victim but had “fallen asleep” while “scratching the girl’s belly.” When he woke up, the attorney said, Fredrick found his hand had “accidentally” moved underneath her panties to her vagina. He maintained that Fredrick’s admission to the crime was in relation to that one incident.
During the trial, the county attorney introduced excerpts from online conversation between the defendant and another man where Fredrick shared intimate details of sexual experiences he had with the victim and other children. Fredrick’s attorney however, proposed that the conversations may have been purely fictional and merely “part of a persona” his client assumed online.
Finally, the defense attorney argued the child’s testimony was not without issue as she had shared her stories of abuse with several people over an eight-month period before ever being interviewed by police Oct. 18, 2013. Edwards rebutted by arguing the victim’s story has never changed. He also maintained Fredrick and the victim shared similar details of the crime.
After court, Cedar City Police Det. Dustin Orton said he was glad to see the case finally over.
“It’s been difficult for me to see this case take so long, to see justice finally come to pass,” Orton said. “But that’s a small thing compared to my worries about the victim and her family in what they’ve had to go through in the time that’s passed. I’m not in their shoes. As empathetic as I am, I don’t experience what they experience so it’s hard for me to think about how hard it’s been for them. But I’m really glad to have seen justice prevail today.”
The Iron County Attorney Scott Garrett echoed Orton’s sentiments.
“We are pleased with the jury’s decision in the Fredrick case,” Garrett said. “Mike Edwards did a great job in trying a difficult case. We are happy for the victims and hope they feel a sense of justice and can maybe get some closure now.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of rape, sexual assault or domestic violence the Canyon Creek Women’s Crisis Center is available 24 hours a day through their various crisis lines. For domestic violence, call 435-865-7443. For rape and sexual assault, call 435-867-6149. For the Mobile Crisis Team, call 435-233-5732.
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