Fondling 15-year-old results in prison sentence |

Fondling 15-year-old results in prison sentence

A Ruhenstroth man who admitted fondling a 15-year-old girl received the maximum 1-5-year prison sentence on Monday.

Richard Higgins III, 20, will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. Higgins admitted a charge of attempted lewdness with a child under the age of 16 in June.

Saying Higgins’ supporters sought to sweep the incident under the rug, prosecutor Chelsea Mazza said her heart broke for the girl who stepped forward in the incident.

“He took advantage of the situation,” Mazza said. “He took advantage of her being 15. This was not a mistake, this was a decision he made and actions he himself did. The victim in this case represents the difficulties in coming forward. People made it all about the defendant, which was completely unfair to the victim.”

Attorney Maria Pence argued for a suspended 1-3-year prison sentence, saying Higgins had lived in Douglas County since he was 4 years old.

“He has been an exemplary young man,” she said. “This is the worst thing that could happen to both of them. Had alcohol and marijuana not been involved we wouldn’t have been in court today.”

Higgins’ stepfather said that he knew that the young man would overcome and achieve greater things.

Higgins apologized and said he accepted responsibility.

“I want to move forward and be the man I know I can be.”

District Judge Tom Gregory said Higgins received the benefit of a plea agreement in the case.

“You will need that support after you fulfill the sentence in this case,” Gregory said referring to the letters received in Higgins’ defense.

Higgins was given credit for five days time served and taken into custody for transfer to the department of corrections.