DALLAS, Ore. – The young man who accompanied Miley Cyrus to the MTV Video Music Awards and accepted her prize has been sentenced to six months in jail for violating the terms of his probation in Oregon.
Officers led away Jesse Helt in handcuffs Tuesday shortly after he and his attorney asked Judge Monte S. Campbell for leniency.
“I’d like to be viewed as a good person, not as a nuisance to society,” Helt said.
Helt, 22, was arrested in 2010 after breaking into an apartment. He violated his probation a year later when he failed to meet his probation officer, violated curfew and didn’t complete 88 hours of community service.
Instead he moved to Los Angeles. He sought modeling work, toiled at a few low-paying jobs and was homeless from time to time.
Cyrus met him during a visit to My Friend’s Place, a shelter for homeless youth in Los Angeles.
Cyrus then brought Helt to the MTV ceremony and let him accept her award for “Wrecking Ball,” the video of the year. Helt used the platform to call attention to the issue of youth homelessness.
Publicity from his appearance brought the probation violation to light. Days later, he returned to this rural community 60 miles southwest of Portland to surrender.
Helt arrived 45 minutes late for his last court appearance, but was 20 minutes early Tuesday.
It did not win any points with Judge Campbell, who agreed with prosecutor Aaron Felton’s recommendation for six months in jail. Helt will get credit for 57 days previously served.
Defense attorney Whitney Boise – hired by Cyrus – unsuccessfully asked Judge Campbell to give Helt one more chance to meet the terms of his probation, rather than send him to jail.
Boise said his client grew up in poverty and has never known stability and discipline. He acknowledged that Helt made a big mistake in not following through on the terms of his probation, but noted that he did not run afoul of the law while in Los Angeles.
Boise said his client’s appearance on MTV has given him a calling, helping youth. Rather than make money off his “10 minutes of fame,” Helt has done volunteer work while hoping to enroll in community college to learn how to install solar panels.
“In a few words, he wants to change his life,” Boise said. “He wants to make a difference.”