A 23-year-old woman will spend five years on probation for having sex with a teenage boy and for violating a restraining order against his family.
Ruth Stevens pleaded guilty to a class A felony count of gross sexual imposition on March 30 and two two class A misdemeanor counts of violating a disorderly conduct restraining order at a sentencing hearing Friday, Aug. 20. Northwest District Judge Josh Rustad accepted a plea agreement between Stevens and the prosecution and sentenced her to five years in prison, with four years and 362 days suspended and credit for three days served after her arrest.
Stevens will have to serve five years of supervised probation and register as a sex offender.
Rustad had the ability to accept or reject the agreement, but not to alter the terms.
Stevens was charged in June 2020 with having sex with the boy. She pleaded guilty in March and just days later she was charged with violating the restraining order the family the had out against her.
At the sentencing hearing Friday, the mother of the boy Stevens had sex with asked the judge for a different sentence.
The family had originally approved of the terms of the plea agreement, but that changed both with how Stevens acted after the guilty plea and what she said in the presentence investigation. Stevens had moved in with the family in 2019.
“She was not a friend, she was a predator,” the boy’s mother said.
She said Stevens had introduced her son to alcohol and marijuana, and that she had damaged the family’s relationships. She also criticized what she said were comments from Stevens in the presentence investigation where Stevens cast herself as the victim in the situation and even blamed the boy.
She asked Rustad to sentence Stevens to serve five years in prison, in addition to the probation.
“We believe that prison time is necessary,” she said.
Rustad told the woman that he couldn’t change the terms of the agreement, but also expressed reluctance. He pressed Jaakan Williams, state’s attorney for Williams County, for the reasoning behind the plea.
He specifically wondered whether the terms would be the same if the defendant were a man and the person the defendant was accused of having sex with a girl.
Williams said he met with the family before making the offer and that he, too, had wrestled with the question Rustad asked.
“This was not an easy recommendation to make,” he said.
Misty Nehring, Stevens’ attorney, told Rustad that her client had been abused as a child, had borderline intellectual function and had bipolar disorder. During the time she was accused of violating the restraining order, Stevens had stopped taking her medication and was having a mental health crisis.
Nehring said she and Williams had negotiated for months about the right sentence, and that she was confident in what they had decided.
One reason for the decision not to include jail time was because Stevens is the primary caregiver for two young children, including a developmentally disabled 18-month-old.
“There is literally no one else who has the capability to provide that care,” Nehring said.
Rustad said he had concerns about the sentence, but found that sending Stevens to prison would be an undue hardship for her dependents.
“I have some reservations, however, I think my reservations are outweighed by preserving the security of the community, Rustad said.