Bryan Fitzpatrick

Bryan Fitzpatrick, 22, says goodbye to family members Thursday before officers escort him to jail. A judge had just sentenced him to eight years in the Montana State Prison for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl in December 2015.

A judge sentenced a 22-year-old man to eight years in prison Thursday for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old girl.

After emotional testimony from the victim and the man’s ex-wife, District Court Judge Kurt Krueger sentenced Bryan Kelly Fitzpatrick to 20 years in the Montana State Prison with 12 suspended. 

Prosecutors say Fitzpatrick made inappropriate comments and advances to the victim in December 2015 and then, when they were alone in a truck, stuck his hand down her pants, penetrating her vagina with his fingers.

Fitzpatrick was initially charged with sexual intercourse without consent, but it was later changed to sexual assault. He took the stand before sentencing, saying he did not blame the victim for what happened and apologized to her and her family.

“I feel sorry that everybody has to sit in this room,” he said.

But the victim said Fitzpatrick, who was 20 at the time of the assault, was a “fraud and a liar” who had “shattered my self-esteem and my trust.”

“I will never forgive you for the things you caused me,” she said during a lengthy statement to the court, crying and shaking throughout.

Fitzpatrick was married at the time of the assault. His wife, who has since divorced him, told Krueger that he blamed the victim for initiating the assault.

“He said it was her idea and she wanted it,” the woman said.

She said she had suffered depression and financial and emotional turmoil since the assault, but added, “Today marks the moment I get my life back.”

Fitzpatrick’s mother and sister also spoke, saying he was remorseful and took responsibility for his actions. He was immature at the time the assault occurred, they said, but had matured since then.

But when Deputy County Attorney Samm Cox questioned Fitzpatrick, he said he and the victim “both did things to initiate” the incident.

It was clear, Cox said, that Fitzpatrick “still blames a flirtatious 15-year-old” for what happened. He urged the judge to agree with a probation officer’s recommendation that Fitzpatrick get a 20-year sentence with 12 suspended.

“There is no indication that this guy is safe for release into the community,” Cox said.

Krueger, through his sentencing order, essentially agreed.

He said he had read statements Fitzpatrick made during a presentence investigation and found “victim-blaming” and not accepting responsibility.

“The victim in this case has been traumatized by your actions,” Krueger said.

Fitzpatrick and his attorney urged Krueger to order outpatient sex-offender treatment, but the judge declined. He also said no parole would be considered until two phases of that program had been completed inside prison walls.

Fitzpatrick is to be considered a “designated sex offender” after release, the judge said, and must abide by numerous terms. They include no interaction with children unless supervised and no use of computers or cell phones without permission from probation officials.

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