Editor’s note: It is the Boomerang’s policy not to run names of defendants in sex crimes until a conviction, or guilty or no contest pleas, unless the accused is a person of public interest, such as an elected official, or a person of public trust such as a teacher or a counselor.
Former Albany County School District No. 1 bus driver Matthew Allyn Strom was sentenced Monday for two counts of sexual assault in the second degree.
On both counts, Albany County District Court Judge Tori Kricken issued the maximum punishment of 18-20 years in prison to be served concurrently.
Strom, 21, originally faced five counts of sexual assault in the first degree, four counts of sexual assault in the second degree and one count of kidnapping. In January, Strom pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault in exchange for the state dropping the other eight charges.
Laramie Police Department officers responded to a call at about 2 p.m. Feb. 20, 2017, where an adolescent reported he was sexually assaulted and potentially drugged after spending time with Strom, according to the affidavit of probable cause. During the report, LPD was informed about other possible assaults, the affidavit states.
According to court documents, the victim told the officers Strom was his school bus driver, and he previously went to Strom’s residence to play video games and build a computer.
During a visit to Strom’s residence the night before the police were called, Strom touched the adolescent inappropriately and gave him a can of Mountain Dew, which made the adolescent feel “off” and “not normal,” the victim said in the affidavit. The adolescent said he thought the drink might have contained an unknown number of Gabapentin pills, a medication prescribed to Strom, according to court documents.
LPD officers were told that on the victim’s way home, Strom assaulted him in a parking lot of a local hotel. According to court documents, an investigation by an Ivinson Memorial Hospital nurse revealed injuries consistent with the victim’s account of the event.
The victim told the officers about a second teen who was also assaulted by Strom, court documents state.
While meeting with LPD officers, the second victim stated he knew Strom from Big Brothers Big Sisters and often spent time with him playing video games, refurbishing a wagon and on one occasion sharing a “chocolate brownie infused with marijuana,” the affidavit states.
The second victim stated sexual interactions between him and Strom began in August 2016, according to court documents.
During the sentencing Monday, a woman identified herself as one of the victim’s mothers and after a tearful statement asked the court to impose the maximum sentence.
“This is a life sentence for (the victim),” the mother said. “He will spend the rest of his life dealing with this. Part of my son is gone forever.”
Before sentencing, Strom addressed the court, asking forgiveness for his actions.
“I can never begin to apologize enough for all the harm I’ve caused,” Strom said. “I take full responsibility for the harm I’ve caused.”
Strom’s appointed public defender, Vaughn Neubauer, said an evaluation provided to the court indicated Strom did not perceive the victims as children.
“I think the overriding theme (if the evaluation) is how immature this gentleman is,” Neubauer said. “What we have here is a man seeking out people with the same level of maturity.”
He asked Kricken to consider a sentence with a wider spread, such as 4-18 years in prison for each account, and emphasized the need for Strom to go through rehabilitative treatments.
Strom’s mother also spoke to the court, asking Kricken to consider a shorter sentence emphasizing treatment.
Assistant prosecuting attorney Cody Jerabek asked the court to issue Strom the maximum penalty for each count.
“I think it’s important that these two counts are two different victims,” Jerabek said. “These were not acts of opportunity. (According to the evaluation), were Strom not to have been caught, he would have continued until he was.”