Former sheriff's deputy gets 21 years for sex abuse

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A former Lewis and Clark County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced Thursday to nearly 22 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to sexual exploitation of a child for molesting a girl over a period of a dozen years.

Virgil Allen Wolfe was arrested in February 2019 on 80 state charges after a 17-year-old girl reported Wolfe had been molesting her since she was 6 years old, including taking photographs of her. Investigators said the abuse happened in both Cascade and Lewis and Clark counties.

Federal prosecutors later took over the case. Wolfe pleaded guilty in May 2019.

U.S. District Judge Charles C. Lovell sentenced Wolfe, 53, to 21 years and eight months in federal prison. After his release, he must stay away from places where children congregate and cannot drink alcohol or use cellphone cameras.

His family had sought the minimum sentence of 15 years, admitting that what he did was horrible, but said a shorter sentence would give him time to seek help and make amends, the Great Falls Tribune reported.

Wolfe was a sheriff’s deputy in Lewis and Clark County from 1999 to 2008 until the sheriff fired him for unrelated reasons.