Man pleads no contest to gross lewdness with minor |

Man pleads no contest to gross lewdness with minor

by Sharon Carter

A 44-year-old Gardnerville man who pleaded no contest to two felony counts of attempted gross lewdness with a person under 14 and one gross misdemeanor count of false imprisonment, was sentenced Tuesday to suspended sentences of one to four years in prison on each of the felony charges.

Judge David R. Gamble imposed a jail term of one year on the misdemeanor charge, and gave defendant Michael Leslie Newcomb, a Gardnerville laborer, credit for time he has served since his August 1998 arrest.

By state law, convictions on the “Class E” felony charges require automatic probation. A second-offense conviction for attempted lewdness with a minor under 14 falls into that category.

Newcomb was accused of trying to touch the breasts of an 11-year-old girl on five occasions and, at least twice, prevented the child from getting away from him.

A court-ordered psychological evaluation concluded Newcomb, who suffered brain damage as a child, does not present a significant danger to the community.

Defense attorney Michael Roeser said Newcomb related to children on a childish level because of his early injury.

“He doesn’t realize what he’s doing is inappropriate,” Roeser said. “He shouldn’t be around anyone who is a minor – he’s not a pedophile or a predator – but when he’s placed in that position (alone with children), he ends up where he is today.”

The father of the victim disagreed with the assessment. He said he believed Newcomb was both a pedophile and a sexual predator. He also said the experience had changed his child and he wanted Newcomb punished. He asked the court to impose the maximum sentence the law allowed.

The maximum penalty in the case was probation on the two felony counts and a year in jail on the other charge. Gamble said he believed Newcomb was capable of understanding what he had done wrong and his ability to raise a defense to investigators who questioned him indicated he knew the badness of what he did.

“I think you do understand the effect you’ve had on this little girl, and if you don’t, it’s my job to make you understand,” Gamble said when he imposed the sentence.

As special conditions of his probation, Newcomb must submit to lifetime counseling and supervision. Twice a year he must undergo polygraph examinations. He must have no contact with the victim or her family, may not join or be involved in groups devoted to services for children, and must also submit to DNA testing. Also, Newcomb may not be in the presence of children without an adult.