Former Carroll College student Connor Andrew Jones was sentenced to 20 years in prison Thursday for multiple felony crimes including rape and secretly recording women in the bathroom in his campus apartment.
“I realize that the sorrow I have caused is immense and deep. And I know I can’t fix any of that, I can’t solve any of it,” Jones told Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Kathy Seeley before saying his goodbyes and being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs. “What I can do is express my deep remorse, remorse that I will pray every day to God for forgiveness and pray that one day everyone involved might see it to forgive me.”
Jones, 23, has admitted to raping an intoxicated and unconscious woman and collecting several years’ worth of video of his victims using the bathroom. Carroll College officials have confirmed that many of the victims were students there.
As part of a plea agreement accepted by the judge, Jones pleaded guilty to one felony count and two misdemeanor counts of surreptitious visual observation or recording; one felony count of aggravated sexual intercourse without consent by common scheme; one felony count of sexual abuse of children; and one felony count of burglary by common scheme. The plea agreement included the dismissal of 19 other charges, the majority of which were related to secret video recordings.
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Seeley accepted the sentencing recommendations presented Thursday by Lewis and Clark County Deputy Attorney Fallon Stanton, which included 40 years in prison with 20 years suspended for aggravated sexual intercourse without consent, five years in prison for sexual abuse of children, 10 years in prison for burglary by common scheme, five years in prison for the felony count of surreptitious visual observation or recording, one year in the county jail for one of the misdemeanor counts of surreptitious visual observation or recording, and six months in jail for the other misdemeanor count of surreptitious visual observation or recording.
All of these sentences will run concurrently for a total of 20 years in prison, and Jones will not be eligible for parole until he completes phases 1 and 2 of the sexual offender treatment program. He received credit for three days of time served prior to conviction.
Jones is also required to register as a Tier 2 sexual offender, forfeit all electronic devices seized in the case so the sensitive information they contain can be destroyed, and pay restitution of $2,280 plus a 10% administration fee and various other fees and costs.
He is not allowed to contact his victims and is banned from Carroll College, Seeley said.
Stanton said the county’s sentencing recommendations aim to balance the wide-ranging opinions of Jones’ many victims, and she gave all of them an opportunity to participate in Thursday’s hearing.
In a live-streamed statement, the uncle of one of the victims said Jones’ actions will have long-lasting effects and asked the court to put him behind bars for at least the amount of time recommended by the county.
“Their suffering does not end when his judgment begins,” he said.
Jones’ defense attorney Greg Beebe of Beebe & Flowers Law Firm in Helena said he was in “complete agreement” with the sentencing recommendations.
Beebe characterized Jones as an outcast and a “broken man” who was suffering from mental illness and needed help himself.
“He self-medicated with alcohol to the point where he was drinking nonstop for a large period of time,” he said.
Beebe acknowledged that nothing can take away the trauma and pain Jones caused, but added “that does not define who this man is.” He said Jones has completed about 150 therapy sessions over the last 18 months to work on issues that stem from childhood.
“Every bone in his body is full of remorse. It’s full of sadness. It’s full of empathy for those he hurt,” Beebe said.
Before handing down her sentence, Seeley said Jones exhibited predatory behavior that caused prolonged harm to his victims.
“When you’re setting up cameras around campus and entering rooms, this is not a spur-of-the moment thing,” she said. “This is something that was thought out.”
The judge said she appreciated Jones’ statements of remorse and added, “I certainly hope they are sincere.”
“You cut a very wide swath in this community Mr. Jones, during your time here. And not a good swath,” she said. “And that causes me great concern.”
The Helena Police Department began investigating Jones in February of 2020, after a Carroll College faculty member discovered what appeared to be hidden camera recordings of people using the bathroom. One of the video clips showed Jones moving the camera.
Authorities extracted several terabytes of data from various electronic devices, memory cards and flash drives seized from Jones.
Detectives found images of multiple victims who had been recorded without their knowledge while using Jones’ bathroom.
One of the victims from the recordings reported that she woke up to find Jones performing sexual acts on her after she fell asleep in a common area following a night of drinking. A video showed what appeared to be Jones performing sexual acts on another victim while she was asleep.
An agent also discovered multiple images of child pornography depicting victims ranging from age 4 to 16.
Jones was arrested on Aug. 26, 2020, in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colorado, where he was living at the time.
Editor Jesse Chaney can be reached at 406-447-4074, or find him on Twitter: @IR_JesseChaney.