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3:56 AM Wed, Sept. 19th

Judge orders prison in assault case<BR>

PRESCOTT – A judge sentenced John Michael Gordon to four years in prison Tuesday despite his attorney's appeal to impose presumptive terms for the two counts of aggravated assault to which the defendant recently pleaded "no contest."

For each Class 6 felony of aggravated assault, Gordon received an aggravating term of two years in prison, which he will serve consecutively, but will get credit for about 420 days he has already served in the local jail.

Yavapai County Superior Court Judge William Kiger told Gordon that he believes the aggravating circumstances outweigh the mitigating circumstance in this case, which involves two young victims.

He said the emotional harm that the two victims have suffered as a result of Gordon's conduct is a substantial aggravating factor and so is the number of victims involved in this case.

"I do feel there was harm done to the victims," he said. "I find that probation would be inappropriate in this case."

In May 2002, a grand jury indicted Gordon on charges including two counts of molestation of a child, sexual assault, continuous sexual abuse, aggravated assault and sexual abuse.

In March and April of this year, Kiger had to declare two mistrials in the case after two different juries failed to reach a verdict. In May, Gordon pleaded no contest to two counts of aggravated assault and the court dismissed all other charges against him.

Before Kiger sentenced Gordon, his attorney, Joel Thompson, asked the court to disregard any thoughts it may have on original charges. He said the state had two opportunities to prove his client's guilt, but it had failed.

Kiger said that although the state was unable to convince the jurors beyond a reasonable doubt, it doesn't mean that the court should ignore the testimonies presented during the trials, especially testimonies related to trauma that the victims suffered as a result of the defendant's conduct.

In his sentencing memo, Thompson wrote, "Had John Gordon been convicted of the sexual offenses with which he was charged in the indictment, perhaps a reasonable argument could be supported that his conduct produced that mental/emotional result."

Deputy Yavapai County Attorney Mark Ainley told the court that the trauma the victims went through is definitely an aggravating factor and that the court should consider it as such.

After the sentencing hearing, Ainley said the sentence was appropriate considering the circumstances of the case. He said the court considered the possibility that the victims may have suffered trauma from other serious issues in their lives, but ultimately concluded that it came out of this specific conduct.

Thompson said that he was disappointed with Kiger's decision.

"Kiger is a judge that I like and I think that he made an error," he said. "I do not believe that the punishment fits the crime. He was punished for things he was not convicted of. It disturbs me especially because it comes from the judge I respect."