Acquitted of sexual abuse charges

Two weeks after a jury acquitted Steven Stoltz, 67, of Culver, of the sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl, he was sentenced to 10 days in the Jefferson County Correctional Facility for custodial interference.

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Steven StoltzJudge Gary Williams explained that he was not the judge who oversaw the three-day trial — retired Judge Gary Thompson, who wanted to serve as the sentencing judge.

"Resources didn't allow that," Williams said, adding that Thompson gave him a summary of the evidence presented, but gave no suggestions on sentencing for the Class C felony.

Sheryl Blackman, chief deputy district attorney for Jefferson County, outlined the case for Williams, noting that Stoltz had been the girl's 4-H leader for numerous years, becoming more and more involved with the family.

The victim and her younger sister spent nearly every day at Stoltz's residence, where they kept their 4-H animals, and Stoltz even maintained a bank account with the children's college fund with money from the sale of their animals.

In August 2011, Blackman said, the girls' mother went to pick up the girls after a doctor appointment, to which Stoltz had taken them. The older girl convinced her mother that she wanted to stay, but when the mother returned the following day, "she refused to come home," said Blackman.

"At one point," she said, "he called the police and asked, 'Do I have to give her back?'" The officer told him that it was against his best interest to keep the girl.

The next day, the girl's grandparents came over and the grandfather went to Stoltz's house and said, "I'm here for my granddaughter," said Blackman. "He said, 'Get off my property.'"

Ultimately, she said, the girl came out, and was taken to Portland for a medical evaluation and counseling.

"He convinced a 16-year-old to turn against her mother," said Blackman.

The victim's mother told the judge, "Being a mother and having your daughter taken and not knowing where she is is the worst thing that can possibly happen ... My daughter and I had a good relationship until last year, when she was taken."

Attorney Sean Trimble, who represented Stoltz, said that his client was only found guilty of custodial interference, so "most of the facts don't relate to custodial interference."

Trimble said the victim in the case is the girl's mother, so he disputed Stoltz's liability for repaying the family for the girl's counseling, particularly since the girl had already received treatment for depression prior to the incident.

"My client said he had no intention of keeping her permanently," said Trimble, referring to the 16-year-old, but was afraid the girl would harm herself if she left.

Blackman countered that she was not asking for restitution for the money in the girls' bank accounts, which he used to pay for his defense, or the girl's clothing, which she said that Stoltz burned.

She asked the judge to sentence Stoltz to jail time.

Stoltz told the judge that he had worked with kids for "30-some years," without any issues, but the girl and her mother had gotten into a "screaming match," and "I didn't know which way to turn."

Judge Williams said that Stoltz's "judgment was so poor in this case," that he was imposing a 10-day jail sentence, and two years of supervised probation, but no community service.

Williams set a restitution hearing for May 28, and directed that Stoltz serve his sentence by Sept. 2.

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