Man pleads guilty to state charges in child sexual assault
A Grand Junction man accused of sexually assaulting a toddler, convincing a woman to take explicit pictures with the child, and attempting to distribute the pictures online pleaded guilty Monday to felony counts in one of his two ongoing criminal cases and is awaiting sentencing.
Joseph Alan Smith, 33, pleaded guilty to sexual assault on a child and procurement of a child for sexual exploitation before Mesa County District Judge Gretchen Larson.
Smith has been charged in both federal and state court in connection with the abuse of the little girl, a Mesa County resident. He was arrested last year after contacting an undercover special agent with federal Homeland Security Investigations on a website frequented by child pornography viewers.
Smith then allegedly sent explicit pictures involving the child and an adult woman to the agent, who was able to track the case back to Colorado.
Smith was indicted on federal charges of production and transportation of child pornography. But investigators learned that he had also physically abused the little girl, and charged him in state court with the physical acts.
As part of the deal negotiated by Mesa County prosecutor David Waite and defense attorney Matt Daymon, Smith is expected to be sentenced to five years in community corrections, then 10 years to life of supervised probation. Both terms, however, will run consecutively to whatever sentence he is given in federal court.
While Smith’s federal plea deal is still in process, Waite said it likely will include somewhere between 10 and 20 years in the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Smith is set to be sentenced by Larson at 3 p.m. Jan. 4, which should be after his federal deal is finalized.
Samantha Groff, the 24-year-old who participated in taking explicit photos with the girl, was also arrested and charged in both state and federal court. She has been sentenced to nine years in her federal case. On Friday, however, the judge in her state case found fault with the sentencing options in her proposed plea deal. Mesa County District Judge Brian Flynn rejected the plea bargain, sending Groff’s state case back to the beginning of negotiations.