In a voluntary confession to a sex crime, a federal prisoner received a slightly lesser sentence for the offense.

Under his plea agreement, 28-year-old Richard Garrett Staples pleaded guilty to abusive sexual contact. In November 2016, while imprisoned in Minnesota, he voluntarily disclosed the abuse from 2010 to a counselor.

"Without him, the United States would never have discovered this offense," Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan O'Konek told District of North Dakota Chief Judge Daniel Hovland at Staples' sentencing Tuesday in Bismarck.

O'Konek and defender Christopher Bellmore each requested a 41-month sentence for Staples, to run concurrent with his present federal sentence for sexual abuse, ending in January 2019. However, Bellmore asked for credit for five months served since Staples was arrested and relocated. 

"He knowingly knew that this was going to be reported to law enforcement and that's exactly what he wanted to have happen," Bellmore said. "This conviction is something that is important to him. It will help him move on."

Staples told Hovland he would like to move back to Bismarck one day. 

"I'm just thankful for where I'm at right now and how I'm going about my life and trying to move on," he said.

Bellmore said Staples has taken advantage of treatment opportunities while in prison. 

"He felt safe, safe enough to talk about this issue with sexual abuse as a defendant and as a victim," he said.

Hovland sentenced to Staples to 41 months in federal prison to run concurrent with his remaining sentence, with five years supervised release.

The 41-month sentence is a "downward departure" based on his voluntary disclosure, Hovland said, lesser than the 46-month minimum he may have faced.

Staples may have no contact with anyone younger than 18. Hovland said he will also recommend to the Federal Bureau of Prisons that Staples return to the Minnesota prison where he found treatment opportunities for mental health and sexual abuse.

"I hope that you can get the help you need, sir, so that you're not coming in and out of federal courtrooms and prisons for the rest of your life," Hovland said, also commending Staples for disclosing the abuse. 

"He truly has remorse," Bellmore said.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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