College Football Player Pleaded Guilty To Two Rapes – So Why Did He Get Probation Instead Of Prison?!
A former college football player in Montana received probation following his admission of rape and sexual assault, escaping what could have been a 20-year prison sentence in the process.
Derek Nygaard, a 22-year-old former football star at Montana Technical University, avoided a custodial sentence in the city of Butte late last week when a judge ordered him to probation and counseling, and mandated he be put on the sex offenders’ registry for the next six years. In the process, he avoided what could have been a two-decade prison sentence, getting off at the wishes of… his two victims?!
The judge in the case, Kurt Krueger, told Nygaard that if he completes the terms of his sentence without further legal troubles, he could even have his conviction expunged from the official records. However, if Nygaard is unable to complete probation successfully, Krueger was quick to note that the young man could face up to life in prison as a consequence.
According to the Montana Standard, the ex-college football player’s two victims — who were not publicly named by the court or the newspaper outlet — released a statement at the hearing through their attorney, Samm Cox.
Showing truly unfathomable grace and restraint for the situation, the two victims shared (below):
“They hope he can take the necessary steps, with counseling, with all the conditions of supervision, and become a productive member of the community. … There’s no excuse or justifications for his actions but the victims wanted me to let the court know that their acceptance of this recommendation is based upon their hope, their sincere hope, that nobody else has to go through the position they were in.”
“ understood from being perspective and being students themselves that the ramifications from this are for the entirety of this person’s life. So they thought, putting themselves in somebody else’s shoes, that an opportunity was warranted.”
It says a lot about the strength and resiliency of those two victims to be able to come out with a statement like that, and to show such an inclination to give a second chance in this terrible scenario. In court late last week, Nygaard spoke about the regret he had for his actions, too. He told the judge:
“Your honor, I’m incredibly disappointed in my behavior by acting disrespectfully. In the past year-and-a-half, 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.”
Judge Krueger even noted that he had been influenced by the victims’ apparent desire to give Nygaard a second chance. Speaking frankly to the young man, the judge indicated that the victims’ sentiments changed his thinking on sentencing:
“You don’t have any criminal record of any kind but what influences the court the most in relation to that is that the victims have indicated that they feel that you should be given a chance, and this chance you are getting is an incredible chance.”
The two assaults took place in September and October of 2020. In the first incident, the victim reported to cops that she’d been sexually assaulted by Nygaard after he’d texted her saying he “felt like he wanted to self-harm.” She invited him to her house, where she told police she was assaulted by the former college athlete. The second victim, who was Nygaard’s ex-girlfriend, told police of how he showed up at her home the next month “too drunk to walk.” He reportedly attacked her, covering her mouth while raping her, then prevented her from leaving the scene afterwards.
Both women independently contacted the police later in October of that year, and cops began investigating the cases. Now, Nygaard must prove to the court that he will not take actions like this again — or, as the lawyer Cox emphatically stated during sentencing, the consequences must be dire:
“ is a double-edged sword. He either avails of it and shows that it was a mistake of maturity, a mistake that is not consistent with being a sexual predator, or if he does show any other signs that he is a predator of any nature, we have an opportunity to go for a full sentence.”
Here is more on the sentencing, from the Montana Standard (below):
A truly unexpected second chance.
Can’t say we would have shown as much understanding as the two victims in this case, to be honest. Just hope he makes the most of this unbelievable deal…
Reactions, Perezcious readers?
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