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For MT Ex-Student Guilty Of Rape, 'Incredible' Chance of Probation

Derek Nygaard wanted to go into his ex-girlfriend’s Butte, Mt., home in 2020. Because he was drunk and struggling to walk, she let him in. When Nygaard — then a student and football player at Montana Technological University — hit on her, she asked him to leave, said prosecutor Samm Cox. Instead, Nygaard covered her mouth with his hand and raped her. Ten days later, a different woman walked into a police station to report that Nygaard had sexually assaulted her the month before, after she spurned his “unprovoked sexual advances.” Last Thursday, judge gave Nygaard “an incredible chance” by not sending him to prison, even though he found him guilty of sexual intercourse without consent, a felony with the possibility of a 20-year prison sentence, the Washington Post reports. Judge Kurt Krueger sentenced the 20-year-old to probation, ordered him to counseling and required that he register as a sex offender for six years. If Nygaard obeys the judge’s orders, he can ask the court to let him withdraw his guilty plea and wipe the case from his record. At the sentencing, Nygaard told the judge he was “incredibly disappointed in my behavior by acting disrespectfully.” Nygaard added that he had improved himself since the rape and would keep doing so. “I have begun the long process of maturing and taking on the responsibility of becoming a man my family and I can be proud of,” Nygaard said. “This work has just begun, and I sincerely regret having to stand before you today. However, it will be the last I will ever find myself here.” Both victims, accompanied by family members, attended Nygaard’s sentencing hearing. The women, who are friends, empathized with Nygaard as young people who knew that “the ramifications from this are for the entirety of this person’s life,” Cox said. “So they thought, putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes, that an opportunity was warranted.”

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