MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. — David Knox emerged from Montgomery County Circuit Court Monday a free man. The 33-year-old had just appeared before a judge for repeatedly dealing heroin in exchange for sex with a 15-year-old girl, but by pleading guilty to lesser charges, avoided prison time.
During the summer of 2017, the high school freshman went looking for heroin on a social media app called, Whisper.
"I actually posted an ad online with my exact words, will f--- for dope," the victim told ABC7 during a concealed identity interview in October 2018.
Knox and two other men all independently replied to the salacious blurb. According to court filings, from July 2017 until September 2017, Knox routinely delivered the teen around one gram of heroin. She, however, had to hold up her end of the bargain each and every time.
"He made terrible choices, this being the worst of them," Knox's defense attorney, Christopher Wheatcroft, stated during sentencing. "He is determined to not make future mistakes... his sobriety is important for keeping his eye on the ball."
In fact, Knox had also been battling with drugs at the time. They were "squandering his life," Wheatcroft said. The 33-year-old recently moved into his parents' home outside of Atlanta, Georgia. He has also applied for a job at Sam's Club.
Prosecutors underscored that the victim was merely a girl looking to rebel, and further argued that Knox preyed on her raw vulnerability.
"The defendant took advantage of a young girl with a drug problem," said a prosecutor with the Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office. "He was a full participant... knowing full well she was underage."
Knox — who wore a blue suit and framed glasses — sat quietly in court until Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Margaret Schweitzer offered him the chance to speak. Talking in hushed tones, the 33-year-old apologized to both the victim and her family.
"A lot of my actions, I believe, were controlled by my drug addiction," Knox said. "I hope the victim can get better from this and bounce back."
Judge Schweitzer opted to sentence Knox to four years of supervised probation, plus ordered him to register as a sex offender. Knox, however, will not be required to serve any prison time unless he violates the terms of his probation. He did spend around 120 days in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility while awaiting trial.
"I'm not here to brand you for life, but I am here to protect the community," Judge Schweitzer said. “I would have thought at age 32, you would have exercised better judgment.”
Soon after ABC7 posted word of Knox's sentence online, the Twittersphere offered a harsh critique of the judicial system, and its perceived level of leniency in this particular case.
"Probation??? are you kidding? wow, wtf!"
"So many things wrong here."
"Man this. is. crazy. PROBATION!!"
"So it’s not a CDS possession and distribution charge for these men as well?"
"Statutory rape and drugs for sex...would think those would carry a stiffer penalty."
Knox stayed mum as ABC7 asked him a couple of questions exiting court, his lawyer and parents walking by his side.
"He doesn't have any comments right now, thanks," his attorney said.
The victim's family reports a mountain of medical bills that top $50,000. Prosecutors noted that a restitution hearing is planned for a later date once a better financial accounting is completed.