The statement was issued through his attorney, Blaine Hofeling, who said “he has not asked for any special dispensation, deals or other special treatment regardless of his long-standing and excellent reputation in this community.”
“Mr. Groft acted alone in this incident and any attempts to tie his behavior to other individuals or organizations is wholly inappropriate,” he added.
Hofeling said Groft has accepted the charges and demonstrated complete willingness to comply with all requirements imposed on him by the city attorney’s office or the court.
“I have plead guilty and have asked the judge to give me the full punishment so that my debt will be fully paid to society,” Groft said in the statement. “I feel that avoiding bargains and paying the maximum penalty that the court believes will satisfy justice is the best way for me to begin on the path of healing and redemption.”
City Attorney Paul Bittmenn said Groft came in to the office Wednesday and entered into a written plea agreement. He said the sexual solicitation charge is a class B misdemeanor.
Randall McUne, assistant city attorney, said those guilty of the charge typically face a $623 fine and bench probation, and are required to take an HIV test and stay out of trouble.
He said arraignment is usually a month or more after the arrest, and as of Friday Groft was the only one of those involved who had pled guilty.
You never know what a defense attorney will argue, McUne said, but he is pretty confident in the evidence.
“From a prosecutors perspective these are pretty solid cases,” he said.
He added that while the arresting officer’s agency usually determines who will be prosecuting the case, the operation was a collaborative effort and he and County Attorney Scott Garrett agreed for Cedar City to handle all eight cases since they all happened within the city.
Groft’s full statement follows:
“I want to publicly apologize to my family, friends, colleagues, former students, the community and state. I have made some decisions that I will regret for the rest of my life. The road that led me to this point started with smaller offenses that seemed benign but gradually pulled me further and further into a pit of addiction and despair.
“Although I continually prayed for forgiveness and experienced bouts of fortitude and upright behavior, the cycle of addiction and darkness visited me again and again and engulfed me more and more.
“My beliefs taught me better; my convictions taught me better; but unfortunately my beliefs and convictions were weaker than my resolve. My wife, family and friends are all angry and shocked, but have offered a tremendous outpouring of love, forgiveness and encouragement. I thank them for that.
“I would ask that any questions be directed to my legal counsel and that you respect the privacy of my wife and family as they are the innocent victims and grapple with these difficult issues that I have placed upon them.
“As mentioned by my counsel, I have plead guilty and have asked the judge to give me the full punishment so that my debt will be fully paid to society. I feel that avoiding bargains and paying the maximum penalty that the court believes will satisfy justice is the best way for me to begin on the path of healing and redemption. I also believe that working with my ecclesiastical leaders will assist in overcoming this problem and hopefully bring some solace to my wife and family.
“I appreciate those who have taken the time to show support to my family, and especially my wife, during this difficult time.”