A 22-year-old Laramie man was sentenced to 13-15 years imprisonment this week after being convicted of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
In November, Zachary Skagen took an Alford plea, a legal term meaning the defendant retains his assertion of innocence while pleading guilty because he acknowledges a jury is likely to convict him.
Skagen was charged with the crime for inflicting penetrative sexual abuse on a 9-year-old girl during at least three separate incidences in July 2018.
In crafting a sentence, Albany County district court Judge Tori Kricken sided entirely with the recommendation of prosecutors, who recommended the 13-15 year sentence.
“We need to send a message to the community that we’re not going to tolerate this behavior and this is going to be the consequence if you conduct yourself in this manner,” said prosecutor Becky Farley, who noted that Skagen “held a position of power over the victim.”
The defendant’s grandmother, Tammy Sullivan, noted that Skagen has intellectual disabilities and said that a young man as “naive” as him has “no place in the prison system.”
Sullivan described Skagen as “one of the most caring and thoughtful young people” she knows.
“He helps without ever being asked,” she said.
Skagen’s father, Rick Skagen, also urged against a prison sentence, noting that Zachary is a key caregiver for his older brother who’s significantly mentally handicapped.
Rick Skagen also said that the victim doesn’t want the defendant to go to prison.
“I don’t think this child’s going to get the resolution she needs until she can face Zach, whether that’s in counseling or some other way,” Rick Skagen said.
Defense attorney Randy Hiller said that Zachary Skagen is a “moldable person” and would’ve been a good candidate for probation or the Wyoming Boot Camp, a labor-intensive program in that allows young male inmates to reduce their sentences after completing 180 days of physical activity and “work ethic” instruction.
Zachary Skagen was arrested in November 2018 but until Tuesday, he had been out on a partial house arrest after a $25,000 cash bond was posted.
A Laramie Police Department officer conducted an interview with the victim in October 2018 and Zachary Skagen later corroborated the details of the sex abuse.
“I don’t know why I did it,” he reportedly told a family member.
On Tuesday, Sullivan expressed concern about the initial questioning Skagen was subject to by LPD and said he was “not well-equipped” to understanding the situation he was in.
The first incident of abuse took place in Las Vegas, while the rest occurred in Laramie, according to court documents.
An evaluation of Skagen conducted through a standard assessment, Static-99R, found Skagen to be a “medium level” risk for recidivism as a sex offender.