January 24, 2023 — Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue released the following statement today on Brian Sangjoon Lee. The below statement is in response to the decision by Judge Randall S. Grove yesterday to release Lee on probation after he served a nine-month prison sentence as part of the Court’s retained jurisdiction approach, commonly known as a “rider.” Lee was arrested and charged with second-degree kidnapping in August 2021 after deputies located him at a local hotel with an 11-year-old Nampa girl.

“Yesterday’s decision by the judge to release Lee to five years of probation is beyond comprehension. This was an adult male who preyed upon a pre-teen girl through an online video game chat and eventually over the phone. After months of grooming this young girl, he then traveled across state lines to pick her up and take her back to California with him, where he had a special room prepared for her to live in at his parent’s house. It’s hard to believe he had her best intentions in mind, especially since he encouraged her to delete her cell phone records and leave her phone behind to help conceal her whereabouts. Despite his best efforts, my detectives were able to locate him and the girl at a local hotel before they made the trip to California, and he was taken into custody. I fully believe my officers’ actions helped save this young girl’s life. That is why it is so frustrating to see him be released on probation. Law enforcement did its job. The prosecutors did their job. Everyone in the justice system should have the victim’s well-being foremost in their minds, especially when it comes to protecting children. This man is a threat to society with a proven track record of preying on young girls. This sentencing sends the wrong message to perpetrators of crimes against children. This man belongs behind bars.”

Lee pleaded guilty to felony second-degree kidnapping in March 2022. At his sentencing hearing on May 24, prosecutors recommended the judge impose a prison sentence of five (5) years fixed, followed by 15 years indeterminate. Judge Grove instead sentenced him to two (2) years fixed, followed by eight (8) years indeterminate, but retained jurisdiction and placed him on a rider. Lee was also ordered to register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victim or any minor children for a period of 20 years.

During Lee’s rider review hearing yesterday (January 23, 2023), Judge Grove placed Lee on five (5) years of probation, despite his original underlying sentence of ten (10) years.