A Fremont man was sentenced in Dodge County District Court to nine years in prison on four charges related to the sexual assault of a child.
Mark A. Stokes, 65, who had previously pleaded no contest to four class IIIA felonies, was sentenced on Tuesday to the maximum sentence of three years on each.
Those charges included two charges of third degree sexual assault of a child and two charges of child abuse.
District Court Judge Geoffrey Hall ordered that the two counts of child abuse be served concurrently, meaning they’ll be served at the same time. The two counts of sexual assault of a child will run consecutively to each other and consecutively to the child abuse sentences, yielding a total sentence of nine years.
Stokes will also serve 12 months of post-release supervision after his prison sentence has concluded. He must also register as a sex offender, and he’s prohibited from having unsupervised contact with minors.
He received 313 days worth of credit for time previously served in jail. Under Nebraska’s Good Time Law, he must serve a minimum of a year and a half on each of the charges.
Stokes was arrested in March of 2018 after a girl alleged to police that Stokes sexual assaulted her on three separate occasions.
He was initially charged with nine felonies — including three class IB felonies of first-degree sexual assault of a child, which can carry a sentence of 20 years to life in prison. He pleaded not guilty to those charges last May, but in October, he came to an agreement with the Dodge County Attorney’s office to plead instead to four class IIIA felonies, which each carry a maximum sentence of three years.
In Court on Tuesday, Dodge County Chief Deputy Attorney Sara Sopinski asked Hall to sentence Stokes to the maximum of three years on each charge, requesting that all the sentences run consecutively — for what would have been a total of 12 years in prison.
She cited the seriousness of Stokes’ crimes, a pre-sentence investigation that put Stokes at a moderately high risk to re-offend and a completed psychosexual evaluation that noted concerns with Stokes’ minimization of his actions.
Stokes’ attorney Dan Reeker argued against a maximum sentence, noting that Stokes had a minimal criminal record outside of this case and that a pre-sentence investigation had suggested Stokes needed psychological treatment. He argued that a maximum jail sentence was not the only way to ensure the victim’s safety.
Stokes declined to comment in court when given an opportunity.
Hall ultimately sentenced Stokes to the maximum sentence on each charge, but did not run all of the sentences consecutively as Sopinski requested, instead choosing to run the child abuse charges concurrently to one another, yielding a nine-year sentence.
“This is a terrible crime, and I can’t imagine the harm done to the victim and others like her in these types of situations,” Hall said. “I feel that penitentiary time is warranted based on the severity of the crime, regardless of the lack of a prior record by the defendant.”