A 27-year-old former employee at Jensen Jewelers has been sentenced to serve a consecutive 20 years at the Montana State Prison with 10 years suspended for possessing child pornography and recording women using the restroom at work and at his residence.
District Court Judge Kathy Seeley found Jonathon Key Tucker guilty on Thursday afternoon for one felony count of sexual abuse of children, two felony counts of surreptitious visual observation and five misdemeanors.
“I feel there is pretty great risk here,” said Seeley, who described Tucker’s actions as “predatory behavior,” as she reluctantly followed a recommendation to categorize him a Level 1 low-risk sex offender in accordance with a psycho-sexual evaluation. “There was a pattern of various serious offenses.”
Tucker was arrested Feb. 22 after a female employee at Jensen Jewelers found a camera hidden inside a mop head in a woman’s bathroom, according to an affidavit filed in Lewis and Clark County District Court. Operating on search warrants for Tucker’s residence, officers found video of his female roommate using the bathroom at their residence as well.
Officers seized three laptop computers, two cellular phones and two storage Secure Digital cards from his residence, according to the affidavit. Officers found 27 videos from inside the Jensen Jewelers bathroom -- 15 of which showed five different employees -- and seven videos from the bathroom at his residence.
Prosecutor Luke Berger called two witnesses and two victims to the stand. Defense Attorney Bryan Norcross represented Tucker.
“Work is supposed to be a safe place,” one victim said. “I hope you burn in hell for the damages you have done. You’re a predator. … If castration was a legal form of punishment, I’d like to see that happen to you.”
A detective with the Helena Police Department testified that Tucker made the videos from October 2013 to February, using a small camera positioned at different angles to record the women before using his computer to transfer videos to his cellular phone. He testified that officers found “several thousand” images of pornography on his cellular phone and laptops, ranging from images of toddlers to pre-teenagers to bestiality. Tucker didn’t share the images, the detective noted.
“This is a concern of safety,” testified the probation officer working for the state’s Department of Corrections. He recommended a consecutive sentence of 20 years in the state prison with DOC supervision.
Norcross said the probation officer was “a little bit bias” in his evaluation since he failed to report to his superiors he and his wife were customers at Jensen Jewelers. Norcross said his client has no history of violence and there was no indication he would assault or threaten the victims with retaliation. He thought the sentence recommendation didn’t fit the psycho-sexual evaluator’s recommendation his client was a Tier 1 low-risk offender.
“Tier 1 low-risk isn’t a no-risk,” the probation officer said. “He needs to be accountable for his actions. My concern is a similar type of offense could happen again.”
“This isn’t a violent crime, but it doesn’t mean that safety is not involved,” Berger said. “(Tucker) had a craft that he perfected. All this was a pattern to fulfill his desire. ... Tucker needs to be under supervision as long as we can supervise him.”
Tucker accepted a chance to address the courtroom before returning to jail and waiting for his transfer to state prison.
“I am really sorry for what I’ve done. I’m sorry for the impact it had on the people involved. … I don’t have plans to re-offend,” he said. “I can’t change what I did. I can only change what I do in the future and what I can do with my life.”
“I hope that Jonathan can get help,” a second victim said. “I hope that he can find a way to be a better person.”