Teen gets probation in sex assault case
EAGLE ” A judge sentenced a former Battle Mountain High School student, who had already spent six months in custody, to two years probation for sexually assaulting two classmates in 2003.
The 18-year-old man, however, may avoid conviction under the terms of a plea deal he reached with prosecutors. The man’s identity is being withheld because he was a juvenile when crimes occurred and to protect the identities of the victims.
Though he initially pleaded not guilty, in August the man pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two classmates. He was released on a $5,000 bond from the juvenile detention center where he had been held for six months.
The man could have been sentenced to two years .
“I’d like to accept the responsibility for what I’ve done,” the man told Eagle County District Judge Richard Hart Monday during his sentencing hearing. “I’m ready to move on with my life.”
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The prosecutor told Hart the parents of the victims had reviewed and accepted the agreement. Hart ordered that the man, who will live in the area while on probation, have no contact with the victims or their families.
“I see a lot of maturity in the (man’s) pre-sentence report,” Hart said. “Ordinarily, this isn’t the way we deal with these cases.
“If you think you can do it,” Hart told the man, “I will accept it.”
“I believe I can, your honor,” responded the man, who was scheduled to go to trial in September, but instead decided to enter the guilty plea, which included one count of sexual assault without consent, a class four felony, and one count of harassment, a misdemeanor.
But the man was not convicted Monday. He was given a deferred judgment, which means if he follows the condition of the plea agreement and obeys the law for two years, the incident will be wiped from his record.
As a condition of the plea agreement, the man will have to register as a sex offender during his probation.
The man’s attorney, Terry O’Connor told Hart the conditions of the plea had changed at the last minute to the man’s disadvantage. “When we fashioned this deal, this isn’t where we wanted to be,” O’Connor said.
The change to the plea conditions stipulates the man can’t have contact with his 6-year-old sister until a counselor says it’s OK. Because of that, the man will stay in Eagle County with an uncle while his parents live with his sister in Las Vegas, where they moved earlier this year.
“His world was turned upside down,” O’Connor said.
The man entered the guilty plea against his mother’s wishes. The mother has said her son would have won a trial, but he decided to enter the plea because he had lost patience after being detained for six months.
“I want him to live with us,” said the man’s stepfather after the sentencing hearing. “This was a surprise to me. I didn’t hear about the changes until this morning. I would have liked him to stay at home until he makes the decision to go.”
The man also said he was looking forward to being with his family again.
“I knew it was coming sooner or later, but I didn’t think it was going to be this way,” he said about leaving home. “I want to get my probation done as soon as possible and move on with my life. I’m not going to screw up.”