Judge: 16 years for Sybrandt

Man guilty of sexual assault could face up to life in prison

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— Michael Sybrandt's expression didn't change Wednesday as a judge ordered him to serve at least 16 years in prison for sexually assaulting a woman in February 2005.

During Sybrandt's sentencing Wednesday, District Judge Michael O'Hara ordered him to serve at least 16 years in prison for misdemeanor false imprisonment, violating a protection order, felony second-degree burglary and felony unlawful sexual contact.

Sybrandt was arrested in February 2005 after he broke into a Steamboat Springs office, took off his clothes and fondled a woman who was working there. The woman previously had a protection order against him.

Leslie Goldstein, Sybrandt's attorney, told O'Hara that a lengthy prison sentence would not help his client receive the treatment he needed for severe psychotic mental health issues. Sybrandt's mother, Mary Sybrandt, similarly pleaded with O'Hara not to send her son away and to give him treatment, not prison time.

Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James countered that Sybrandt previously had undergone treatment and received medication for mental health issues, but had not improved.

St. James also told the court that Sybrandt was convicted of exposing himself to a woman in 2004 and had harassed former female coworkers.

The woman whom Sybrandt sexually assaulted in February 2005 told O'Hara that 13 months after the incident she still was feeling the residual effects of the incident. She asked that Sybrandt be removed from the Steamboat Springs community indefinitely.

"The event has affected me in a number of ways. I felt like I was one of the most supportive and sympathetic women in his life, and he sexually molested me. It makes me very concerned to think what he would do to a woman who truly rejected him or who he was angry at," she said.

St. James told O'Hara he thought Sybrandt was a serious risk to the women in the community and that Sybrandt's evaluations indicated that he was a high risk to commit another sexual offense.

"I would contend that every woman that comes in contact with this man is at risk. He will offend again, and frankly, I do not think he can be fixed. What he did to (the woman) cannot be wiped from someone's memory bank," St. James said. "You can't give back that type of security."

Before issuing his sentencing, O'Hara told Sybrandt that he understood his mental health issues and his desire for treatment, but O'Hara also expressed concern that Sybrandt had blamed others for his situation. Sybrandt is incapable of understanding the damage he has caused the women he has assaulted, O'Hara said.

"You, sir, have no idea of how you rob people of their safety and their well-being. You have no empathy for your past or the things you have done to people," O'Hara said. "The letters you have continuously written to the court indicate that you need help. I don't know how to give that help. You have rejected everything that has been given to you in the past."

O'Hara sentenced Sybrandt to one year in Routt County Jail on the false imprisonment and violation of a protection order charges. He gave Sybrandt a 529-day jail credit for time already served.

Sybrandt also was ordered to spend six years in the Colorado Department of Corrections on the second-degree burglary charge and an additional 10 years on the unlawful sexual contact charge. O'Hara also classified Sybrandt as a sexually violent predator, which means he will be under lifetime supervision if he is released from prison.

St. James said when Sybrandt is eligible for parole, he could be released only if a parole board determines he no longer is a threat to society. If the parole board never makes that decision, Sybrandt could potentially spend the rest of his life in prison, O'Hara said.

-- To reach Alexis DeLaCruz, call 871-4234 or e-mail adelacruz@steamboatpilot.com

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