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Published January 17 2012

Devils Lake man gets 6 months for luring, porn possession

FARGO – With a judge in front of him and his family behind him, Allan Richard Vetsch said in a Fargo courtroom Tuesday he was “very ashamed and very embarrassed” of the person he was when he possessed child pornography and had sexual online chats with who he thought was a 14-year-old girl.

“I had to change,” Vetsch said. “Otherwise, these people behind me wouldn’t be sitting here.”

Cass County District Court Judge Douglas Herman said it appears that Vetsch, 41, of Devils Lake, has done everything he can to turn his life around since he was charged nearly a year ago with luring minors by computer.

But Herman also said the crimes were “serious, serious offenses,” and he denied Vetsch’s request for a sentence that would allow his record to remain clear of a felony conviction.

Herman sentenced Vetsch to six months in the Ramsey County Jail in Devils Lake, where he continues to live and work.

Vetsch also must serve three years of probation and register as a sex offender for at least 15 years.

Police said Vetsch approached a Fargo detective posing as a 14-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room in June 2010, identifying himself as a 32-year-old in the Devils Lake area. In later chats, he encouraged her to send him revealing pictures of herself and have explicit conversations.

“The defendant is the one who pushes the sexual issues,” Assistant State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said.

On the day Vetsch was charged in Cass County, authorities served a search warrant at his Devils Lake home and found at least seven images of child porn on a thumb drive.

Vetsch pleaded guilty to the luring charge in August. The child porn case filed in Ramsey County was transferred to Cass County for a change-of-plea hearing and sentencing on both charges Tuesday.

Vetsch’s attorney, Bruce Quick, said while it doesn’t make what he did right, a lie detector test showed that Vetsch had no sexual contact with anyone under the age of 17 in the last five years and hadn’t met face-to-face with anyone he had met online younger than 17.

Younggren didn’t dispute the polygraph results, saying they were “an important piece” in the plea agreement offered.

Three psychological risk assessments indicated a low to moderate risk to reoffend, Younggren said.

Quick didn’t object to the jail time, but he asked that Vetsch be allowed to serve it with work release in Devils Lake so he could keep his job at a farm implement dealership. Vetsch resigned from his position as regional technician for the Northeast Education Services Cooperative and Technology Learning Cooperative two days after the luring charge was filed.

Vetsch spent 15 days in inpatient treatment at Prairie St. John’s in Fargo and continues to meet with a psychologist, Quick said. Those 15 days and three he served in jail will be applied against his sentence.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528