Rape suspect says drugs and alcohol ruined him
September 2, 2005
EAGLE – Those who believe Jonathan Schut raped a Denver woman last spring say he should spend a long time in jail. But Schut’s adoptive parents say there’s more to their son’s alleged behavior, and it all started before he was born.Schut, 26, faces 13 criminal charges and could spend the rest of his life in prison if he is convicted. He is accused of raping a 29-year-old Denver woman in the Vail parking garage on March 12 and attacking another girl in her Eagle home.Though they don’ know if their son is guilty, Linda and Robert Schut said they believe the fact that Schut’s birth mother drank when she was pregnant could have something to do with Jonathan’s problems. “He’s a fetal-alcohol-effects child and people with that problem tend to get in trouble with the law, they don’t see logical consequences,” said Linda Schut, who with her husband, a pastor from Mescalero, N.M., visited Jonathan at the Eagle County Jail last week. “If he’s guilty, I hold him responsible,” Robert Schut said. “But how do you make sure society is best served considering this is a person who can’t, in many ways, think right.”The Schuts, who adopted five of their six children, know about the effects of alcohol on an unborn child. Three of their children, including Jonathan and his brother, Gary, were born with “fetal alcohol effects,” a milder version of fetal alcohol syndrome, but still a debilitating condition. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teenagers and adults with fetal alcohol syndrome are more likely than others to have interactions with police or courts. People with fetal alcohol syndrome also are more likely to exhibit inappropriate sexual behavior, such as inappropriate advances and inappropriate touching, the CDC reports. Studies suggest more than a third of individuals with fetal alcohol syndrome have had problems with alcohol or drugs, with more than half requiring treatment in a hospital or rehabilitation center, the CDC reports.
Problems growing upJonathan Schut had a difficult passage through school, his parents said. He had attention deficit disorder, a neurobehavioral disorder also known as ADD, and had to be put in special education. He also took the drug Ritalin to help with the ADD from age 5 to 15, his parents said. At 17, he left home and soon he was drinking all the time. “I drank every day since I was 21,” said Jonathan Schut, during an interview at the Eagle County jail, where he’s been since he was arrested on April 18. “I mixed my coffee with liquor.”When he was 23, Schut said, he worked as a stripper in San Antonio, TX.”I had to do drugs to do it,” he said. “I’m real shy.”Though Jonathan Schut said he comes from a very stable family where his adoptive parents never drank alcohol, he and his brother, Gary, had several encounters with the law. After being in-and-out of jail for drugs and drunk driving, Gary is now free and living in New Mexico. After also struggling with problems, the Schut’s adoptive daughter who also has fetal alcohol effects is doing better, the Schuts said.In comparison, their biological child, has never had problems with the law and is now in the Air Force, Robert Schut said.”(Jonathan) has a good heart,” Linda Schut said. “He’s always had girlfriends and has been nice. It’s hard to believe such charges.
“When you’re taking substances, you can make poor choices,” she added. Linda Schut said she gave the interview because she wanted to prevent other women from drinking while they are pregnant. “This is the only preventable birth defect,” she said. “If the message gets out, maybe it’s worthy that Jonathan is in jail.”‘Drugs messed me up’ In the four months he’s been in jail, Schut has grown half-inch long nails and his goatee has turned into a full beard. He likes to sleep during the day and he is awake at night when there’s less distractions at the jail, he said. Though his parents’ visit cheered him up – they brought him several Harry Potter books – Schut said he’s very concerned about going to prison because he wants to see his daughters growing up.”I think they are going to throw me in prison,” he said. “I rather get help than go to prison for 60 years. I need help. Drinking and drugs are the reason I’m here. “All I can say is that drugs messed me up.”Schut, who is also charged with possessing the drug Ecstasy, said he believes the strongest evidence prosecutors have against him is a confession.
“I don’t remember confessing to police because I was on drugs when they arrested me,” he said. “If they have (a confession), they really took advantage of my situation. I was drunk. When they put me in jail, I slept for four days.”Robert Schut said his son is willing to plead guilty to several charges, but he doesn’t remember the Vail incident.”His friends say this isn’t in his character,” Robert Schut said.Schut, who said he’s become healthy and has put on 20 pounds while in jail, said he wants prosecutors to understand he has a drug problem. But District Attorney Mark Hurlbert said drugs aren’t a defense or an excuse.”There are some crimes that are so heinous that is doesn’t matter if they have alcohol or drugs problems,” Hurlbert said. “We’re going to look at a significant sentence.”Hurlbert said he doesn’t know yet if Schut will be offered a deal to plead guilty. Schut’s next court hearing is Sept. 13.Vail, Colorado