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Published November 26 2012

ND man gets 12 years for sexual contact with girl

FARGO – A Fargo man who pleaded guilty to having sexual contact with a girl under 15 years old and then threatening the girl’s mother with a knife was sentenced to 12 years in prison on Monday in Cass County District Court.

In a prepared statement he read aloud in court, 27-year-old Joshua Steven Buhr apologized to the girl’s family sitting behind him in the courtroom.

“The only thing I can do is say I’m sorry and hope you have the strength to carry on,” Buhr said.

Buhr pleaded guilty in July to gross sexual imposition, a Class A felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison, as well as terrorizing and felonious restraint, both Class C felonies carrying a maximum penalty of five years.

Prosecutors alleged that Buhr, an acquaintance of the girl’s mother, had sexual contact with the girl, who was born in 2003, after locking her bedroom door and holding her down against her will on April 20. He threatened the girl’s mother with a knife before leaving the apartment.

Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Leah Viste noted Buhr has an extensive criminal record that includes convictions for burglary, theft of property and fleeing police.

Defense attorney Nicholas Thornton said Buhr also has a significant history of mental health concerns, and he believes Buhr will be required to complete chemical dependency treatment and sex offender treatment in prison.

Judge Wade Webb, who accepted the joint sentencing recommendation from Viste and Thornton, called Buhr’s conduct “abhorrent.”

In addition to the 12-year sentence on the Class A felony, Buhr received concurrent five-year sentences on the Class C felonies and must serve five years of supervised probation. He also must register as a sex offender and have no contact with the victims throughout his probation.

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