Booking photo for Nicholas L. Smith (Courtesy: Cache County Jail).

LOGAN — A 36-year-old Nibley man is heading to prison for sexually abusing a young girl online for years. Nicholas L. Smith cried as he was ordered to serve between one to 15-years in prison.

Smith was sentenced in 1st District Court Thursday morning. He previously pleaded guilty to one count of enticing a minor over the internet and four counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, all second-degree felonies; also three counts of distribution of pornography by an adult, a class A misdemeanor.

Defense attorney Ray Malouf asked the court to keep Smith out of prison. He said his client had changed his life since being arrested, and was “broken and messed up” when he committed the crimes. He also explained the defendant had went through traumatic experiences as a child and health problems later, possibly impacting his decisions.

The case against Smith reportedly started in January 2012 when he began sexting with an underage girl, who lives in England. They had an online relationship for more than five years that started when the girl was 12-years-old. During that time, the victim sent the defendant numerous pornographic videos and photos of herself.

Smith also recorded himself having sex with people multiple times in Nibley and Logan canyons. Some of the photos or videos were uploaded to the internet. The victims claimed they did not know they were being filmed and hadn’t given Smith permission to post the material online.

The crimes occurred between 2012 and 2017. Smith was arrested in 2018, when family members found “disturbing” text messages on his phone.

During Thursday’s sentencing, Smith tearfully told the court he was deeply sorry for the things he had done and had made “horrible mistakes.” He apologized to those he had hurt, claiming he was a better man than when he was arrested.

Cache County Deputy Attorney Dane Murray asked the court to send Smith to prison, noting how the virtual abuse occurred on a daily basis for almost six years. He said the things the defendant did were horrific to read about, explaining how he had introduced the victim to sadomasochism and forced her to abuse herself, while filming it for his own gratification.

This is as close to hands-on sexual abuse as you can get,” stated Murray.

The victim, who still lives in England, addressed the court during a prerecorded statement. She said Smith ruined her. The girl described being diagnosed with depression, PTSD and suicidal thoughts since the crimes occurred.

Judge Brian Cannell said Smith’s case showed that there was no such thing as just virtual harm. He explained that there was nothing in the defendant’s history to justify the crimes. He ordered Smith to complete sex-offender treatment while in prison. Before concluding, he spoke to the victim, telling her that he truly hoped she could find joy and healing.

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