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Man gets 180 days in sexual assaults of teenager; told to 'make things right'

Kevin Leonard

A sobbing sex offender was immediately taken into custody Monday after apologizing to his teen victim and his own family.

Kevin Christopher Leonard, 43, of Park Rapids, received 180 days in jail for sexually assaulting the teen three times in 2011. He pled guilty June 18 to a single count of Third Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in exchange for the county dismissing two similar counts.

His attorney, Tom Kuesel, told Judge John Smith Leonard was at a low risk to re-offend.

"If (the victim) had been three months older, this would not have been a crime," Kuesel said.

But the attorney acknowledged his client has "demons of his own," including being a victim of abuse himself, having a chemical dependency problem and "suicidal ideation" caused from extreme depression.

A Pre-Sentence Investigation noted Leonard lacked empathy for his victim, something Kuesel denied.

"He would give anything to fix this, to go back in time," Kuesel said. "He's a wreck. That's the man before you."

Smith addressed the victim, who sat in the back of the courtroom.

"Make sure you win this," he told the victim. "Be strong, don't crumble. Move on. Don't let this defeat you. The past can't change but the future can...If you have any sense of guilt, get rid of it. This is not your fault."

Smith told Leonard," I actually thought of giving you more time than that" (what the prosecutor had recommended.)

He sentenced Leonard to 36 months in jail with execution stayed, 15 years of probation and ordered him to make restitution for the victim's counseling.

He ordered Leonard to get chemical dependency treatment in jail and to refrain from alcohol, pornography and most Internet contact when he is released.

"This does not have to be the end of your life," Smith said from the bench. "Many people have made mistakes, including me."

He told Leonard his life would be marked by "what you do forward" and urged the defendant to commit himself "to making things right."

Leonard must register as a predatory sex offender for the rest of his life.