Registered sex offender can attend CCHS
Court orders included in the sentencing of a young man, after pleading guilty to a single charge and ordered to register as a sex offender, will be allowed to finish his senior yearThe facts are clear: A 17-year-old pled guilty to a single charge of sex abuse and was sentenced which included registering as a sex offender. The question was: should this young man be allowed to return to Crook County High School for his senior year.
Last June, 17-year-old Daniel Lee Munjar, having just completed his junior yer at CCHS and a member of the school's NJROTC program, pled guilty to the crime of first degree attempted unlawful sexual penetration. The plea was entered in exchange for the state to agree to a presumptive sentence, moving it out of Measure 11 status. Judge Gary Thompson sentenced the youth to 90 days jail time and five years probation.
Included in the sentencing order was the prohibition of the defendant having contact with females more than three years younger, except in a school setting. He was to complete a sex offender treatment program, register as a sex offender and not engage in any sexual activity for the period of probation.
Last week Thompson heard arguments concerning whether Munjar should be allowed to sign up for school.
Attorney Valerie Eves presented the court with a motion to clarify the orders of probation. Her client had been released from jail on August 13, she explained, and reported to Crook County Probation Officer Bill Harper. Harper handed Munjar an action plan which said "no minor contact is allowed at this time."
People are signing up for school," Eves informed Judge Thompson, "and we would like the sentencing order to be made clear."
Attending school is a big issue for her client, Eves maintained. "In your sentencing order, you indicated that school is a supervised setting. Basically all your orders are being overridden because of different definitions. My client is being even more isolated than your orders stipulated."
Sitting at the witness table, Munjar, a clean-cut 'boy-next-door' looking young man listened intently as Eves pled his case. "I don't think he)s a risk to the community and I don't want to see him become isolated just because of concerns of liability. I think enough bad things have happened to him."
Chief Deputy District Attorney Ron Brown reminded the judge that the offense Munjar pled to was a Measure 11 crime. "The recidivism rate for sex offenders is difficult to formulate; it depends on which study you take. But to say Daniel Munjar is a low risk doesn't say he won't re-offend. We oppose the motion."
Munjar had just been released from jail and had yet to attend any treatment sessions, Brown added. "Any risk could be catastrophic if he does re-offend."
When Bill Harper, Munjar's parole officer, testified he explained he has two duties that he takes seriously. The first duty is to protect the community and the second it to assist his clients with reformation. The action plan that he created, he went on to say, was a temporary measure to use until he could get clarification of the sentencing order.
"The direction of 'no contact' was a stop gap order," Harper explained in court, "until I could meet with the district attorney and the judge to clarify the order."
Harper told the court that he believes Munjar will respond well to treatment, "and I look forward to working with him. We'll be working together for the next five years. I am concerned, however, about him attending high school."
Education is important, the parole officer stipulated, but "it should be obtained elsewhere."
Judge Thompson stood by his original order, however. "The court has to make a judgment based on the best information available. Will he (Munjar) be able to graduate? I think so. Will he be able to complete sex offender treatment? I think so."
The sentencing order included the condition that Munjar not have contact with females three years younger, Thompson said, "except in a school setting. I wouldn't have said that if I didn't expect him to continue to attend Crook County High School."
School Superintendent Gary Peterson, saying he had not seen the sentencing order, could only respond in a general sense.
"State law says we are obligated to provide any eligible student with an education. Unless the court so orders, or if a student violates certain rules, such as with weapons or drugs, we will follow that law."
It is the right of the individual, Peterson continued, to get an education. It is also the right of the student body to be protected. "We'll ensure the safety of the other students."
This is a very difficult balancing act for school officials, Peterson explained. When asked if he had ever had this type of issue before, he said not. "We've had younger juvenile cases," he said, "where we saw what court documents said and that gave us a basis on which to keep track of the student. Without having seen the court document on this or talked with the parole officer, I don't know what we will have to do."
Munjar is expected to sign up for school and start along with other students this week. He was also a member of the CCHS NROTC program last year and, according to the judge's order, should be allowed to continue with that program.