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Ex-San Diego firefighter from Point Loma sentenced for unlawful sex with teen girl

Justin Price pleaded guilty last year to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 17-year-old girl.
(Courtesy of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department)

A judge ruled that Justin Price, who had been with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for 10 years at the time of his arrest, must register as a sex offender.

A former San Diego firefighter who pleaded guilty to a felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor was sentenced Jan. 13 to one year in custody and two years’ probation and must register as a sex offender.

Justin Curtis Price, 36, formerly a fire engineer-paramedic who had been with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for 10 years, pleaded guilty last year for the encounter with the teenage victim, who had turned 17 a few weeks before.

Price, who had known the victim since she was 9, was arrested about six months after the encounter, in April 2019.

Fire-Rescue Department leaders suspended Price at the time of his arrest, and he was no longer employed with the department by the time of his preliminary hearing in October 2019.

Preliminary hearing testimony indicated that Price admitted, in text messages with his wife, to having sex with the teen about two weeks after her 17th birthday. Price’s wife — who said the Point Loma couple married in 2017 but were divorcing — testified at the preliminary hearing that her husband was aware the girl had some mental health issues, including self-harm and cutting herself.

San Diego police Detective Jeremy Margolis testified that he interviewed the victim, who said Price told her not to tell anyone about what happened and that it would be “our little secret.”

Price’s sentence includes 365 days in custody, which he can serve in the work furlough program if he qualifies.

The original plea agreement was reached with the understanding that Price would be sentenced to five years’ probation, but changes to state law that went into effect Jan. 1 mean the maximum probationary period that could be imposed is two years.

Deputy District Attorney Jessica Coto read a statement from the victim, who said she had trusted Price “completely” at a particularly fragile period in her life when she was struggling with depression and anxiety.

“I’ve questioned asking him for support that day constantly,” she said.

The victim and her mother asked the court to impose the longest custodial sentence possible, as well as sex offender registration.

Price made a statement to the court in which he said he did not “deserve [the victim’s] forgiveness or trust, and I don’t expect you to forgive me. I was selfish and immature, and all I can ever think of is how much I want to take it all back.”

“I know that I have to live with the consequences of my actions for the rest of my life,” Price added. “I know that I have destroyed my own reputation, betrayed the trust of my family, my parents and the community. I know that it will take a long time before anyone may even begin to trust me.”

— The San Diego Union-Tribune contributed to this report.


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