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Brittany Lawonn, Published September 11 2007

Fargo man gets year in Cass jail for abusing girl

A judge has ordered a 19-year-old Fargo man to serve a year in the Cass County Jail for repeatedly sexually abusing a girl for nearly three years when she was between the ages of 10 and 12.

The victim told police that Nathan Bryan Munter assaulted her on several occasions between November 2003 and July 2006 and forced her into a closet in winter 2005 and raped her, stopping when she started to cry and starting again when she stopped.

East Central District Judge Wade Webb had stern words for Munter before he sentenced him Monday for gross sexual imposition. Webb called his conduct “abhorrent” and repeatedly told him that it was his fault and not the victim’s.

Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Gary Delorme brought up the issue of blame being placed on the victim when he gave his sentencing recommendation, saying Munter claimed that the victim made the advances that led to multiple incidents of sexual acts.

“Somewhere along the line everything was kind of switched around and the victim became the defendant and the defendant became the victim,” Delorme said.

Delorme then recommended that Munter serve three years of a five-year sentence and spend five years on supervised probation, saying he felt a suggestion from a pre-sentence investigation that Munter serve no time was not harsh enough.

Munter’s attorney, Lindsey Haugen, reminded Webb that Munter was a juvenile when the incidents took place and called the state’s recommended sentence “inappropriate.”

Haugen asked for a five-year sentence, with all five years suspended, five years of supervised probation and for his client to serve six months on a Global Positioning System, or GPS, monitoring device.

“He does have a positive future and outlook ahead of him,” Haugen said, adding his client is at a low risk to re-offend.

After the hearing, Haugen said he believed his client’s comments were taken out of context and Munter did not blame the victim.

Munter chose not to address the court when given the opportunity. He had pleaded guilty in May to the Class AA felony charge, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole.

Under Webb’s sentence, Munter will first serve one year of a 10-year sentence at the Cass County Jail. The remaining nine years will be suspended for five years, during which Munter will be on supervised probation.

Munter, who appeared to be crying as he was sentenced, will also be required to register as a sex offender for a minimum of 15 years and be monitored on a GPS device upon his release, Webb ruled.

“I’m pretty sure I’ll give you at least 10 years if you come back before me,” Webb said as a warning to Munter if he violates any of the multiple terms of his probation.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Brittany Lawonn at (701) 241-5541