WALLACE — Travas Bickhart, 34, of Osburn, Idaho, has recently been sentenced to 20 years in prison for three counts of rape and three counts of sexual battery of a minor.
According to the Prosecutor’s Office, a victim came forward in May 2017, to report the rape and sexual battery.
Immediately upon report, the Osburn Police Department initiated an investigation and within hours had obtained and executed a search warrant at the home of Bickhart, with the assistance of the Shoshone County Sheriff’s Office.
It was determined during the course of the investigation that there were two victims, and multiple acts within a period of several months. Each of the six charges carried a possible life sentence, but Bickhart’s defense attorney, Erik Smith, argued during his court appearance that the defendant had family in Montana and through an interstate compact, he could be successful on probation and parole.
Smith also asked the court to consider the goals of deterrence and rehabilitation, noting that there is more than one way to get treatment — either through the therapeutic community or a retained jurisdiction.
Deputy prosecuting attorney Ben Allen presented the state’s case, pointing out that the incidents were not isolated.
“While Mr. Bickhart presents to the court today as a remorseful individual, there is no escaping the egregiousness of his conduct,” he stated. “Mr. Bickhart’s sexual abuse was not an isolated event… For the two victims of Mr. Bickhart’s acts, the effects and trauma of these incidents will likely live with them for the rest of their lives. This is trauma that can never be undone. What the state is asking the court to do today is to help bring justice and some sense of closure, however small, to the girls and their families.”
Allen argued that the state asked for six, 20-year unified sentences (10 years fixed and 10 years indeterminate) for each count that would be served consecutively. Ultimately though, Judge Fred Gibler decided to hand down a unified 20-year sentence that will be served concurrently for the six charges.
This means that every year Bickhart serves in prison will count toward time served for all charges, not just one.
As Judge Gibler handed down the sentence to Bickhart, he reminded him of the lifelong impact he has left on the victims. “This will remain with them for the rest of their lives. There is no doubt in my mind that the things you did, you knew were wrong and you did them again and again.”
Bickhart will be eligible for parole after he has served 10 years in the Idaho State Penitentiary.
If he paroles, he will still have 10 years remaining to serve if he violates and the parole commission imposes his term.
Shoshone County saw an elevated number of sexually based crimes occur over the past year and Shoshone County prosecuting attorney Keisha Oxendine wants the residents to know that these are being given every ounce of effort from her office.
“The present status of sexual based crimes in Shoshone County has seen multiple cases over the past year. However, it is not uncommon for there to be delayed reporting in sex crimes, whether involving a minor child or an adult,” Oxendine said. “First, every sex crime reported is taken very seriously and an immediate investigation is conducted. To the extent that a child is involved, we utilize the services of the Children’s Advocacy Center in Coeur d’Alene to seek the services of a trained forensic interviewer to conduct the child’s interview. Second, law enforcement and my office work collaboratively to determine if there is a likelihood of physical or other evidence to corroborate the crime, and work diligently to seek search warrants to obtain that evidence. In addition, we seek specialized training for law enforcement and prosecutors in an effort to expand investigative efforts and prosecution strategy to seek successful outcomes when an offender is arrested. Finally, upon arrest of a defendant, we prosecute the offenders and seek substantial prison sentences in an effort to deter not only that offender but other offenders.”