By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsemail@example.com
Relatives of a small child molested by a Havre man say they are "disgusted" that the Hill County Attorney's Office has recommended 30 days in custody for the man as part of a plea agreement.
They said they're also upset that the man, who is out on bond, was allowed to stay out of jail after he admitted he violated conditions of his release by being in the company of teenage girls. The man is facing charges of giving the girls alcohol and touching them inappropriately.
"I thought it would be more than a slap on the wrist," Cheri Brindle said about the sentence recommended for Paul E. Hofland. "Now I understand why people don't pursue (prosecuting sexual offenses,) because they don't seem to get anything accomplished."
County Attorney Cyndee Peterson and her assistant declined to comment on the recommended sentence. "This office vigorously pursues all criminal cases to the best of ability including sex offenders," Peterson said in an e-mail.
Another Montana prosecutor said the sentence recommendation should depend on what a psychosexual evaluation of the defendant reveals. Hofland had not yet been evaluated when the recommendation was made.
Hofland, 58, pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to a felony charge of incest with a preschool-aged female relative. As part of the plea agreement, the Hill County Attorney's Office dropped a felony sexual assault charge and recommended a sentence of 15 years in prison with all but 30 days suspended.
If the judge accepts the recommendation, Hofland would be under the supervision of the state Department of Corrections for the entire 15 years and could be required to go back to prison if he violated conditions of the sentence.
Hofland did not respond to telephone messages