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Pastor sentenced for exposing himself on Web camera

SALT LAKE CITY — A former Salt Lake City pastor who exposed himself over the Internet to someone he believed was a 13-year-old girl was sentenced to 90 days in jail Monday.

William J. Blanscet, 67, pleaded guilty in January to two counts of dealing harmful materials to a minor, a third-degree felony. Monday, his attorneys told Third District Judge Robin Reese they had "never seen anyone punish himself the way he has" before asking the judge for a 90-day sentence.

Reese instead sentenced Blanscet to zero to five years in prison but suspended the prison time and ordered Blanscet to serve 90 days in jail followed by three years of probation. The judge also ordered him to not use the Internet — for any reason.

Blanscet was a pastor at the Church of God of Prophecy at 425 N. 700 West in Salt Lake City — and had been for more than 40 years, prosecutors said. But on May 14, he resigned and had his bishop's license revoked, according to a spokesman for the church.

One week later, Blanscet was charged with four counts of dealing in harmful material to a minor, all third-degree felonies.

Police said he exposed himself on multiple occasions using a Webcam to a person he thought was a 13-year-old girl.

The first instance was in July 2008, when Blanscet, under the username "happyutahman," contacted an investigator with the Attorney General's Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force posing as a 13-year-old girl. He contacted the "girl" in a chat room multiple times over the course of several months.

On four different occasions Blanscet used his Webcam to expose his genitals — including two instances where he transmitted images from a local hospital where his wife had just undergone knee surgery, court documents state.

Blanscet's wife was in the courtroom Monday and Blanscet's attorney, Greg Skordas, cited the man's family as a reason to give Blanscet an abbreviated sentence.

"This has been tough on Bill and his family," Skordas said. "His wife is present and remains supportive and his family remains supportive of him. He's frail. I've never seen someone punish himself the way he has. ... He is a very good man."

Blanscet apologized to the court, the state of Utah and his family.

But state prosecutor Paul Amann said the case was "particularly egregious" and warranted a sentence of at least 180 days.

"It's not just that he was doing this while a gentleman of a certain age who should have known better, but he was the pastor of the church and had been for more than 42 years," Amann said. "He should have turned to something other than what he was doing on the Internet."

Blanscet and his family declined to comment after the sentencing. He is to report to jail April 27.

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