By Brandi Makuski
Steven Tibbetts was convicted Wednesday on three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.
Originally charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault, one count of fourth-degree sexual assault and one count of felony bail jumping, Tibbetts’ charges were reduced to three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault — misdemeanor charges — as part of the plea deal.
The charge of bail jumping, and one count of second-degree sexual assault, were dismissed but read into the record as evidence.
As a result of his no contest plea, Judge Thomas Eagon found Tibbetts guilty and sentenced him to nine months in jail — the maximum penalty allowed by law for fourth-degree sexual assault — followed by three years of probation.
Once his probation is successfully completed, Tibbetts will also be required to register as a sex offender for a period of 15 years.
Eagon stayed the sentence for two of the charges, but should Tibbetts violate his probation, he would serve an additional 18 months in jail.
ADA David Knaapen called the outcome “reasonable”.
“It’s difficult because the public is going to look at it as, somehow we may have sold out,” Knaapen said. “But the point I wanted to make is, had any of victims said no, I wouldn’t have done it. The only reason I did what I did is because the victims were all in agreement.”
While Tibbetts’ lawyer, Nila Robinson, subtly referred to the cases as instances of one-night stands riddled with “human misunderstanding” and “human miscommunication”, Eagon called the series of events in which Tibbetts was charged as “very disturbing”, also saying he believed there was a high likelihood for Tibbetts to re-offend.
“These incidents show a very serious series of unwanted sexual advances, where the victim said ‘no’, and the defendant perpetrated a sexual assault,” Eagon said. “This series of events is very disturbing and shows a pattern of disregard for the feelings of others, and if one doesn’t understand the feelings of others, Mr. Tibbetts, you should understand when someone says ‘no’.”
Eagon also said the number of offenses indicated that the public needs to be protected from Tibbetts.
“The court looks at these assaults as being very aggravated and aggressive in nature,” Eagon said, adding the court also took into consideration Tibbetts’ lack of criminal record, his expressed remorse and full-time employment, but also noted Tibbetts’ actions have affected some of his victims for life.
“[Tibbetts] has taken some responsibility and spared the victims the pain of a trail,” Eagon added.
One of Tibbett’s victims, Liv Kizeski, was in court to make a victim impact statement. As she struggled to speak, Kizewski said she feels guilty for not coming forward sooner.
“I hope the court can see he’s a danger to society,” Kizewski said during the plea hearing. “I ‘m angry at myself for not coming forward sooner because I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I went through.”
Following court on Wednesday, Kizewski called the City Times office to explain why she agreed to the plea deal.
“Our whole thing was getting him to be registered as a sex offender,” she said. “That’s the one thing I wanted out of this because [I believe] he will do this again.”
Kizewski said she’s glad Tibbetts will be going to jail, and that his sentence is only nine months doesn’t bother her very much.
“What’s worse — for him to be in jail or for him to be out in the community, having the community to know what he did?”