Hike sentence

Man, 20, avoids jail time for two sexual assaults after victims tell judge not to jail him

A rising former college football player has escaped a 20-year prison sentence for rape and sexual assault after his two victims told the judge they wanted to give him a second chance.

Twenty-year-old Derek Nygaard avoided a custodial sentence in a court in Butte, Montana on March 24, despite admitting to rape and sexual assault. These attacks took place in September and October 2020 while he was studying at Montana Technical University.

He could have faced two decades in prison for the horrific attacks, but was instead sentenced to probation, counseling and being on the sex offender register for six years. Judge Kurt Krueger told Nygaard that if he sticks to the terms of his sentence, he can even ask to have his conviction expunged from his record later, The Montana Standard reported.

The anonymous lawyer for Nygaard’s victims told the hearing: ‘They hope he can take the necessary steps, with counseling, with all the conditions of supervision, and become a productive member of the community,’ said a victims’ attorney in court during Nygaard’s sentencing on Thursday. .

In court on Thursday, Nygaard expressed regret for his “disrespectful” actions.

“Your honor, I am incredibly disappointed in my behavior in acting disrespectfully,” he said.

“Over the past year and a half, I have begun the long process of maturing and taking on the responsibility of becoming a man my family and I can be proud of.” He claimed to follow counseling to help him understand the seriousness of his crimes.

Derek Nygaard, 20, student at Montana Technical University in Butte

Judge Krueger told Nygaard: “What influences the court the most … is that the victims have indicated that they feel you should be given a chance and this chance that you get is an incredible chance.”

Last week’s sentencing came 18 months after the two attacks.

The October 2020 victim reported his attack first. She was Nygaard’s ex-girlfriend and recounted how he showed up at her house too drunk to walk and then attacked her.

Nygaard covered the woman’s hand with his mouth while raping her, then forbade her to leave afterwards. She went to the cops shortly after.

The second victim, whom Nygaard attacked a month earlier, in September 2020, was friends with both Nygaard and his other victim. She contacted the cops a week after the October attack.

She told how she was sexually assaulted by Nygaard after he texted her to say he wanted to self-harm, and she invited him over.

Nygaard will have to receive counseling and register as a sex offender for six years. After that, he can demand that his guilty plea be expunged from his criminal record, reported.

If Nygaard fails to meet the requirements of his probation, he could be sentenced to life in prison, Judge Krueger said.

Judge Krueger said in court that while his clean record was one of the factors that helped Nygaard get a deferred sentence, it was really the victims' support for him not being jailed that did the trick. difference.

Judge Krueger said in court that while his clean record was one of the factors that helped Nygaard get a deferred sentence, it was really the victims’ support for him not being jailed that did the trick. difference.

In the state of Montana, rape is a felony that carries up to 20 years.

Nygaard has reached a no-jail agreement. While he was found guilty, his victims’ statements played a central role in his suspended prison sentence.

Samm Cox, a lawyer for the victims, reiterated that they want Nygaard another opportunity to be better.

“There is no excuse or justification for his actions, but the victims wanted me to let the court know that their acceptance of this recommendation is based on their hope – their sincere hope – that no one else has to go through the position they were in,” Cox mentioned.

Judge Krueger said in court that while his clean record was one of the factors that helped Nygaard get a deferred sentence, it was really the victims’ support for him not being jailed that did the trick. difference.

“You have no criminal record, but what influences the court the most in this regard is that the victims indicated that they felt that you should be given a chance, and this chance that you get is an incredible chance. “, Krieger said.

“They understood from the perspective and as students themselves that the ramifications of this are for the entirety of that person’s life,” Cox said.

“So they thought, putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, that an opportunity was warranted.”

According to prosecution documents, the first victim came forward on October 13, 2020.

Nygaard had made sexual advances twice before assaulting her with his finger while covering her mouth at his Butte residence.

Montana Tech began investigating the assault and notified Butte police after the victim reported it.

Ten days later, another victim came forward, accusing Nygaard of raping her after letting him into her residence when he appeared to be drunk.

The woman said Nygaard had a short-term relationship in 2020, threatening him with harming himself.

When she asked him to leave, he refused and raped her. She tried to call for help but Nygaard took her phone and continued to assault her.

By the time he was charged with two counts of rape, Nygaard was no longer a football player at Montana Tech.

The charges were later combined into one, and he made the plea deal without jail time.

Cox said Nygaard’s second chance was a “double-edged sword”.

“Either he takes advantage of it and shows that it was a mistake of maturity, a mistake that is not compatible with being a sexual predator, or he shows other signs that he is a predator of any kind, we have the option to go for a full sentence,” Cox said.