Sunday, December 6, 2009

Prosecutors disappointed that fondler of woman received only probation

A young man who sexually abuse his friend's mother after a party with friends to celebrate their impending college experience has been sentenced to 30 days in jail, 2 years probation and sex offender registration. Douglas County District Judge J Russell Derr sentenced Camden Stutheit to those terms after he plead guilty to 3rd degree sexual assault, a misdemeanor in Nebraska, for the crime, which took place in August 2008.

Stutheit, then 19, Evan M. Block, Eric D. Jones and several other teenagers — most of them Millard West High School graduates — had gathered at the victim's home to party on the weekend before they were to report for the first semester at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

The woman arrived home and, angry that her son had thrown a party, kicked everyone out.

After lingering outside for a while, Block, Stutheit and Jones decided to sneak into a bedroom of the woman's house, authorities say. Testimony and police interviews indicated all three took turns fondling the woman's breasts — and Stutheit admitted penetrating her with a finger.

Block was acquitted of first-degree sexual assault charges after a weeklong trial in May. Jones testified against Block and wasn't charged.

His attorney, Alan Stoler, said Stutheit is remorseful for his actions and has made changes. Stutheit, who was drunk that night, hasn't had a drop since, Stoler said.

Stoler said the probation office tested him to see if he had any sexual addictions — and determined that he does not. Put simply, Stoler said, Stutheit's behavior is something that will not be repeated. The probation office recommended he be placed on probation. “I'm very comfortable in saying I don't expect to ever see Camden Stutheit anywhere near this sort of situation for the rest of his life,” Stoler said.

Stutheit, in his second year at UNL, has been diligent in his studies and his job, Stoler said. The judge allowed Stutheit to report to the Douglas County Jail to begin his 30-day term on Dec. 21, just after his first semester. “I just wanted to say I (am) extremely sorry to the victim,” Stutheit said. “I'm extremely remorseful, and nothing like this will ever happen again.”

Judge Derr told Stutheit that “The facts in this case are fairly egregious. I'm very cognizant of the victim in this case. On the other hand, you have absolutely no record.” Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine said the outcome of this case is "disturbing" and that his office failed to go for a felony conviction on the guilty plea. "The results are bothersome. The level of responsibility and the accountability that they were held to aren't enough for what was done to this woman.”

The victim, who said that the case “stirs up too much in me,” did not attend Stutheit's sentencing. “I've got to put this behind me, because it's really affected me. But at least somebody got something.” In response to her case, a Nebraska lawmaker has filed a bill making sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult a felony. That should be done. No one should be able to get away with what was done to me.”

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