At a sentencing hearing in Sixth Judicial District Court, Robert Vance Wilson was sentenced to serve a total of 7-18 years in prison on three category B child abuse, neglect or endangerment charges. Wilson was originally charged with 44 counts of using a minor in producing pornography as a subject of sexual portrayal in performance, each count a category A felony.
Wilson was arrested on June 21, 2018, and was detained at the Humboldt County Detention Center on an $11 million bail. The bail amount was later lowered to $250,000 by the Union Township Justice Court and Wilson has been in custody since the arrest.
Information reviewed in court hearings allege that Wilson, now age 45, was in a relationship with a 16-year-old female and the two had exchanged sexually explicit photos via electronic message.
Humboldt County Public Defender Matt Stermitz represented Wilson in the case. Stermitz argued that his client should not have been charged with 44 counts of the same exact crime, for one count per photo that was found on his electronic device. The case was later lowered to 33 counts of the same category A felony charge, and ultimately modified to the 3 counts of category B child abuse, neglect or endangerment for which Wilson signed the plea agreement.
Wilson was facing a penalty of 1-6 years in prison for each count to either run consecutively or concurrently, only eligible for probation if not determined to be a high risk for re-offense after participating in a psychosexual evaluation, and will be required to register as a sex offender.
It was unclear at the time of the sentencing hearing whether Wilson will be required to have lifetime supervision or not.
During his sentencing argument, Stermitz asked the court to grant his client probation and said that the psychosexual evaluation determined that he is a moderate to moderate-high risk to re-offend, making him eligible for probation.
Stermitz explained that the incident involved a consensual relationship between Wilson and the juvenile, and said that 16 is the legal age for consent in the state of Nevada unless the adult is a teacher or in some sort of guardian-type role. He further explained that the relationship was not illegal; what was illegal was that Wilson and the juvenile were exchanging explicit photos as she was under the age of 18.
“In this case there is no evidence they (photos) were made available to anyone other than Mr. Wilson — how does that harm anyone? I guess it can be an embarrassment,” said Stermitz. “People are people and everyone has genitalia and it’s all over the Internet. He (Wilson) was in a consensual relationship and there were pictures.”
Deputy District Attorney Kevin Pasquale told the court that the pre-sentence investigation (PSI) report indicated that Wilson said that a 16-year old girl that he knew started hitting on him and that although the relationship was indicated to be legal, he (Wilson) told the juvenile to deny the relationship because he would get in trouble and go to prison.
Pasquale also pointed out other notes contained in the PSI indicating Wilson exhibited behaviors of minimization and normalization, making excuses and justification for his behaviors, blaming others and the victim for his situation.
“Wilson acknowledged his behavior but did not take responsibility; he provided a range of excuses and rationalizations for his behaviors in that he felt upset or betrayed,” said Pasquale. “That’s not the only thing that appears in that report; this is a guy that wants to blame his victim and will not take responsibility for his own actions.”
Pasquale asked the court to impose a sentence of 28–72 months in prison on each of the three counts, with the sentences to all run consecutive.
Wilson said he didn’t know what to say other than that he was sorry. He apologized to the court and said he was sorry to the victim, family and all involved.
The victim’s mother in the matter was present to read a victim impact statement to the court for purposes of sentencing. She said that her daughter was not in a good place when all of this started and now has more problems with trust, anger, anxiety and depression. She said that her daughter has turned to drugs and she worries that she will never feel safe or loved again due to the incident with Wilson.
“You should have known better, she was so young and naive and you manipulated and brainwashed her,” the victim’s mother said to Wilson in her statement. “I will never, ever forgive you for the damage you have done to my daughter and my family.”
Sixth Judicial District Court Judge Michael Montero ordered Wilson to serve the time recommended by Pasquale, which totals 7–18 years in prison with 342 days credit for time served.
He was also ordered to pay a $153 DNA collection and analysis fee, $25 administrative assessment fee, $1,500 public defender fee and a $1,515 psychosexual evaluation reimbursement.