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Eureka man headed to state prison for sex offense

The Western News | June 24, 2022 7:00 AM

A Eureka man caught on an audio recording trying to badger an underage relative into having sex with him will spend the next decade behind bars.

John Kendall Ellis, 35, received a 20-year sentence to the Montana State Prison, with 10 suspended, from 19th District Court Judge Matt Cuffe on Monday.

Ellis pleaded guilty to a single count of solicitation to incest on Feb. 14. Along with solicitation to incest, Ellis initially faced a charge of sexual assault or incest, alternatively.

In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop the latter charge. They also dismissed a second case against Ellis, one that involved an assault with a weapon charge stemming from an alleged attack on a detention center officer while in the county jail.

Ellis must undergo any treatment recommended in his sexual offender evaluation prior to release, according to court documents.

The victim in the crime read a statement on video to the effects Ellis’s behavior had on her.

“You made me want to kill myself,” she said. “I turned to drugs to numb the pain. I hope I am the only one you’ve don’t this to.”

Cuffe gave Ellis a chance to speak, but he declined.

Eureka Police officers began investigating the 35-year-old in July after a therapist alerted authorities. According to court documents, a client provided an audio recording of Ellis engaging in sexual harassment.

In the recording, a male voice is heard describing sexual acts to occur when the victim’s mother went out of town. When confronted by Eureka Police officer Grigori Neils, Ellis accused the victim of editing the audio. He told Neils “he was trying to tell [the victim] that he didn’t want to do that with her,” according to court documents.

In an interview with the victim, who was a non-blood relative of Ellis, investigators learned the abuse began last March. That’s when Ellis told her he wanted to have sex, she said. She alerted another family member, but was dismissed, court documents said.

The victim recounted riding with Ellis in late spring, saying he groped her while she sat in the passenger seat and made vulgar comments pressuring her into sex, according to court documents. He made similar remarks during a family camping trip in July, those being the comments she recorded, according to court documents.

Ellis will remain in the Lincoln County Detention Center until he is taken to the state prison in Deer Lodge.

To report child abuse or neglect, contact Child and Family Services of the state Department of Public Health and Human Services at 1-866-820-5437. Victims of sexual violence can call the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673.