Former Sen. John McGee heads to jail

Credit: Eric Turner/KTVB

Former Sen. John McGee heads to jail


by Andrea Lutz

Bio | Email | Follow: @KTVBandrealutz


Posted on August 21, 2012 at 7:50 AM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 7:20 PM

BOISE -- Former state Sen. John McGee has been sentenced to 44 days in jail after pleading guilty to disturbing the peace, a charge filed back in February after a Senate staffer accused him of sexual harassment.

McGee was handcuffed and taken into custody immediately after the judge handed down the sentence in an Ada County courtroom Tuesday afternoon.

Both the state and McGee's attorney Scott McKay were OK with putting McGee in jail for five days and giving him a fine. However, that was not good enough for Fourth District Magistrate James Cawthon.

“This new offense happened…as an Idaho senator at the capitol,” in part, said Judge Cawthon. “And you picked a person... who was probably excited to work for you.”

The judge said McGee should be treated as a public servant, and the consequences of his crimes should reflect that degree of respect.

In June, McGee plead guilty, allowing him to avoid a jury trial.

McGee was already sentenced to year probation in a 2011 drunken driving case. That summer, the up-and-coming senator was found passed out in a stolen SUV that he had crashed.

Seven months later, when it seemed like McGee was on a positive track to regain his political status, he shocked the community by resigning from office.

“There have been many times over this past several months that he has sat in my office and he has cried, he has cried knowing that he has put so much at stake,” said McKay.

Deputy prosecutor Jean Fisher said in February of 2012, McGee cornered a 25-year-old legislative attaché in his office and demanded graphic sexual conduct from her.

“She reported that the defendant was acting sexually inappropriate around her, talking in a manner that was sexually offensive and asking her to participate in graphic sexual conduct,” said Fisher.

This was the second year the assistant was hired to work for McGee in the Legislature. Also in court, Fisher said the victim noticed a change in McGee and the sexual conduct continued.

“The victim reported that the defendant called her into his office, locked the door and demanded graphically inappropriate sexual conduct from her,” said Fisher.

Tuesday, before the judge handed down his sentence, McKay made an impassioned plea for his client saying he's now in counseling and trying to turn his life around.

“In the end all John has left is his family,” said McKay. “I will submit that he has handled this situation appropriately, responsibly he has pled guilty to this offense, he has admitted responsibility.”

Judge Cawthon ordered McGee to serve 44 days in jail for the disturbing the peace charge, another 44 days of community service for violating his probation, and two more years of probationary supervision.

In court Tuesday, McGee admitted guilt to the accusations and apologized for his behavior.

"Your honor, I accept responsibility for my actions. Serving in the Idaho Senate has been a great privilege, but with that privilege comes responsibility and over the last year I did not live up to that privilege. And I am sorry for that and I apologize," said McGee.

McGee's family, including his wife, was in the courtroom during today's sentencing. The victim was not present.

McGee resigned from his position with West Valley Medical Center in Caldwell earlier this year. His attorney told the court that he is unemployed and looking for work.