A 20-year-old man accused of sexual contact with a 13-year-old girl when he was 18 or 19 will not have to spend any more time in jail under the terms of a plea deal accepted Wednesday morning in the Northwest District Court.
Nevada Atanasu had pleaded guilty to one count of class A felony gross sexual imposition in April.
Atanasu could have faced up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000 for the conviction. However, under the terms of a plea deal presented to Judge Benjamen Johnson on Wednesday, Atanasu was given a 10-year sentence with a minimum period of five years probation.
Atanasu will also be required to pay court costs, seek psychosexual treatment, register as a sex offender, and refrain from having any contact with anyone under the age of 18. The court costs are just over $1,000.
There was no victim impact statement during the proceeding Wednesday morning, nor were any entered into the record.
The prosecuting attorney, Eric Lundberg, told the judge that evidentiary issues were among the reasons he agreed to the plea deal.
The case had been continued a number of times, prolonging it, Lundberg said. By now, Atanasu has already spent a year and one-half in the Williams County Correctional Center. A court trial would not necessarily yield a sentence much longer than that.
Lunderberg also told the judge he believed the time already served should send a sufficiently strong message to the defendant.
“That is hard time for anyone his age,” he said.
Defense counsel Donald A. Sauviac, Jr., agreed, adding that his client’s mental capacity does not not match his age. He told the judge the plea deal was the best resolution for everything at hand and for all parties concerned.
The case was also one that the prosecution could lose, Sauviac suggested.
Atanasu’s attorney also showed the judge a letter from the young man’s previous employer stating that Atanasu could be rehired once released. The intent was just to show that his client will be able to take care of court costs and fees.
Johnson said the nature of the allegations and the high level of the offense were concerning to him.
“Just on the nature of the charge, I am a little hesitant to accept this agreement,” he said.
However, with both prosecution and defense in agreement on the plea deal, Johnson did accept it.
“You will have to abide by all the terms and conditions,” the judge told Atanasu.
That includes sex offender registration within three days of any change in residence or employment.
“If you fail to do that, you can be criminally charged for failing to register,” the judge said.