A Mead man pleaded no contest to child abuse in Dodge County District Court on Wednesday, in relation to an incident in which he was accused of sexually assaulting an 11-year-old girl.
As part of an agreement with the Dodge County Attorney’s Office, Ethan L. Ruhe, 26, pleaded no contest to the class IIIA felony, which has a maximum sentence of three years in prison.
An additional charge of first degree sexual assault of a child, a class IB felony punishable by 20 years to life in prison, was dropped.
Sara Sopinski, chief deputy attorney for Dodge County, told the Tribune that the agreement had been made with the cooperation of the victim.
“We worked closely with the victim and they helped develop an outcome that they felt would give them closure,” Sopinski said.
“We don’t have to put a young child through a trial and she got some closure that she wanted and got to be a part of the process, and I think that’s important,” she added. “I don’t think it’ll ever be enough, but I’m not sure the highest conviction would have been enough, either.”
Ruhe was arrested in September of 2017 after the victim told law enforcement that Ruhe sexually assaulted her while she was asleep, according to a police affidavit made at the time of his arrest.
A witness told law enforcement that Ruhe had allegedly privately admitted to having “sick thoughts about children” and had privately admitted to sitting near the victim and getting “too close” while she slept, but he denied touching her, the affidavit reads.
District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall accepted the plea, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the case down for sentencing on April 1.