Judge delivers face-to-face sentence

RENO, Nev. - A Reno man convicted of kidnapping and raping a Sparks woman in November got a sentence he'll have a long time to remember.

Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach didn't think William Jorgensen was paying attention to the sentence on Tuesday, so he left the bench and got in Jorgensen's face.

With his nose just inches from Jorgensen's, Kosach said, ''I want you to feel how those little girls felt, just a little bit - just a little bit, Mr. Jorgensen.

''Just feel how they felt - and others that probably haven't been here.''

And then, almost hissing, Kosach said, ''Life in Nevada State Prison.''

Without another word, Kosach turned abruptly and strode into his chambers, slamming the door behind him as a gallery of supporters sitting with one of the women applauded and cheered.

During the hearing, Chief Deputy District Attorney Dan Greco read into the record an emotional letter from the victim whose rape led to Kosach's sentencing of Jorgensen under Nevada's habitual criminal statute.

Another woman testified at the hearing that Jorgensen raped her in a separate earlier incident. Trial of that case is scheduled in January.

Defense lawyer Paul Giese said in his 28 years of law practice he had never seen a judge step down from the bench and confront a defendant as Kosach did.

''I would not say that Kosach blew it for purposes of appeal, but I think that may raise an issue,'' Giese said. ''That was as strong a reaction as I have ever seen for a judge at a sentencing. The judge was clearly incensed.''

Greco declined to comment on Kosach's conduct.

Kosach later said he had never left the bench before to confront a defendant.

''He wouldn't look at me when I was talking to him,'' Kosach said. ''He wouldn't do it so I wanted to get down and look him right in the eye. It was a man-to-man thing with me.''

The judge said he does not believe his conduct could lead to a reversal in the case.

The sentence Kosach imposed followed his finding that after having been convicted of 10 prior felonies, Jorgensen is a habitual criminal.

In an August trial, he was convicted of an additional eight felonies, which led to the habitual criminal sentencing.

In that case, Jorgensen and an accomplice went to Pah Rah Park in Sparks last November and robbed a 19-year-old woman and her boyfriend at gunpoint, then forced the man out of the vehicle and eventually sexually assaulted the woman.


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