An ex-college football player admitted to rape. He was given probation.

cigaretteman

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Derek Nygaard wanted to go into his ex-girlfriend’s Butte, Mont., home in the fall of 2020, and because he was drunk and struggling to walk, she let him in, a prosecutor said in court documents.
But when Nygaard — then a student and football player at Montana Technological University — hit on her, she asked him to leave, prosecutor Samm Cox wrote. Instead, Nygaard covered her mouth with his hand and raped her.

Ten days later, a different woman walked into a police station in Butte to report that Nygaard had sexually assaulted her the month before, after she spurned his “unprovoked sexual advances,” Cox wrote.
On Thursday, a Montana state judge said he was giving Nygaard “an incredible chance” by not sending him to prison, even though he found him guilty of sexual intercourse without consent, a felony that carries the possibility of a 20-year prison sentence.



Instead, Judge Kurt Krueger sentenced the 20-year-old to probation, ordered him to counseling and required that he register as a sex offender for six years. If Nygaard obeys the judge’s orders for that period, he can ask the court to let him withdraw his guilty plea and wipe the case from his criminal record.

The judge noted the rarity of getting a deferred sentence for rape.
“It just doesn’t happen,” Krueger said at Thursday’s hearing.
Cox said one of the main reasons it did happen was that Nygaard’s two victims supported the no-prison plea bargain — Nygaard would plead guilty to one of the two sexual assault felonies he was charged with; in exchange, Cox agreed to drop the second one and sign off on a deferred sentence.

Neither Cox nor Nygaard’s attorney, David Maldonado, responded to a request for comment from The Washington Post.


At the sentencing, Nygaard told the judge he was “incredibly disappointed in my behavior by acting disrespectfully.” But, Nygaard added, he had bettered himself since the rape and would keep doing so.
“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,” Nygaard said. “This work has just begun, and I sincerely regret having to stand before you today. However, it will be the last I will ever find myself here.”
Both victims, accompanied by family members, attended Nygaard’s sentencing hearing, the Montana Standard reported. The women, who are friends, empathized with Nygaard as young people who knew that “the ramifications from this are for the entirety of this person’s life,” Cox said. “So they thought, putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes, that an opportunity was warranted.”



“They hope he can take the necessary steps, with counseling, with all the conditions of supervision, and become a productive member of the community,” Cox said at the hearing. The two also have the sincere hope “that nobody else has to go through the position they were in.”

Nygaard was attending and playing football for Montana Tech when the woman went into the Butte police station in October 2020. She reported to police that Nygaard had hit on her three times in a five-day span the previous month. On the third, he blocked her from leaving his place and sexually assaulted her, according to an account by Cox in court records.
The woman told police she felt ashamed and reported what happened after discovering Nygaard might have attacked someone else, court records state.

“She then felt compelled to go to the police,” Cox wrote.


During the ensuing investigation, police contacted another woman who said she and Nygaard had dated briefly in August 2020, according to court documents. They mostly stopped communicating after the breakup until Nygaard contacted her in late September of that year and made “unusual comments about self harm,” Cox wrote.
On Oct. 3, he sent her a message on social media asking her to let him into her home, after which he raped her, court documents state. At one point, she tried calling for help, but Nygaard took her phone.
She “asked him to stop several times,” Cox wrote.
By the time Nygaard was charged in March 2021, he was no longer a student or football player at Montana Tech, according to the Montana Standard.

Cox called the deferred sentence a “double-edge sword” after Thursday’s hearing when he spoke to the newspaper.


“He either avails of it and shows that it was a mistake of maturity — a mistake that is not consistent with being a sexual predator — or if he does show any other signs that he is a predator of any nature, we have an opportunity to go for a full sentence,” the prosecutor said.
Krueger said the victims’ approval was key in his decision to accept the plea agreement.
“What influences the court the most … is that the victims have indicated that they feel that you should be given a chance,” Krueger told him, “and this chance you are getting is an incredible chance.”

 

FAUlty Gator

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Oct 27, 2017
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This is the new world under Will Smith rules. Saying sorry is all that's needed for assault to be forgiven.
 

Hawki97

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Dec 16, 2001
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Seems like a slam dunk that this is beyond stupid, but the victim's wishes on retribution seem to be being granted. Maybe they wouldn't have proceeded with any charges and wouldn't have cooperated if the punishment wasn't like this. A lot of things I'll probably never know...but the headline sure seems ridiculous.