CANYON COUNTY, Idaho — Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue is frustrated with the court's decision to release a man who was charged with kidnapping when he was found with an 11-year-old girl in a hotel in August of 2021.
Brian Sangjoon Lee, 21, served a nine month prison sentence as part as a "rider" program. He pleaded guilty to the kidnapping charge in March of 2022. Inmates who are given a rider can either be released on probation for good behavior or sentenced to their full prison sentence, which in Lee's case, would have been 10 years.
"Yesterday's decision by the judge to release Lee to five years of probation is beyond comprehension. This was an adult male who preyed upon a pre-teen girl through an online video game chat and eventually over the phone. After months of grooming this young girl, he then traveled across state lines to pick her up and take her back to California with him, where he had a special room prepared for her to live in at his parent's house," Donahue said in a press release.
"I fully believe my officers' actions helped save this young girl's life. That is why it is so frustrating to see him be released on probation. Law enforcement did its job. The prosecutors did their job. Everyone in the justice system should have the victim's well-being foremost in their minds, especially when it comes to protecting children. This man is a threat to society with a proven track record of preying on young girls. This sentencing sends the wrong message to perpetrators of crimes against children. This man belongs behind bars," Donahue said.
Lee remains on a probation term of five years.
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