Equal time for the same crime

Two years ago Hollie Beston filmed her husband Brian as he raped a 4-year-old girl. Beston then shared the video online. The two were caught as a result of another man, Richard Hockaday, reporting them to the FBI in an effort to lower the 42-year sentence he faced:

The San Diego man told federal investigators that he met the Bestons on Craigslist. Hockaday advertised himself as a single mother looking for parents in Seattle and San Diego with whom to carry out some sort of “fantasy,” charging papers said.

Hockaday started talking to the couple about traveling to Seattle to have sex with the girl, charging papers said. Hockaday said that he watched Beston, who police say is 6 feet tall and 360 pounds, have sex with the little girl over a webcam, according to court documents.

Hockaday said he received 40 to 50 pornographic images from the Bestons during the three months they were in contact, charging papers said.

What makes this case so unusual is Beston’s sentence:

Hollie Beston pleading guilty in December to first-degree child rape, first-degree child molestation, sexual exploitation of a minor and dealing in child pornography. Her estranged husband, Brian Beston, of Kent, pleaded guilty to the same charges and was sentenced last June to a minimum of 26 years up to life in prison.

After they each serve 26 years in prison, the Bestons will be confined until state authorities decide whether they should be released. Hollie Beston was sentenced Friday by King County Superior Court Judge Mariane Spearman, according to the King County prosecutor’s website.

It is rare for women who participate in sexually abusing children to receive prison time. It is rarer for those who do receive prison time to face more than ten years. It is rarer still for women to receive the same sentence as a man. Usually women receive plea deals in exchange for their testimony.

Perhaps the prosecutors did not offer Beston a deal because they already had Hockaday’s testimony. That seems the most plausible explanation, particularly considering that Beston plead guilty rather than face a trial. Twenty-six years is a long time, but in this situation it seems fair. What seems unfair, or at least unethical, is that both Bestons will be held after they complete the minimum sentence. If their sentences were under 5 years that might make some sense. After 26, it seems a little much. At that point they would have served their time and presumably be up for parole. It does not seem fair to essentially block their chances at parole a quarter of a century after their crimes.

After all, they will have 26 years to change their behavior and learn how to control themselves.

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