by Tim Leeds
A Havre man was sentenced Thursday to 20 years in prison with all but 30 days suspended for a charge of incest.
"I think you need to be under supervision for the rest of your natural life and I guess I'm giving you 20 years," Judge Marc Buyske of Shelby told the defendant, Paul E. Hofland. "You've given a life sentence to (the victim.)"
The sentence means Hofland, 58, will spend 30 days in the Hill County Detention Center and will be under supervision of state probation officers for the remainder of the 20 years. He also must attend sex-offender treatment, register as a sex offender, perform 1,000 hours of community service and pay up to $20,000 for counseling for the victim and her parents.
Hofland was accused of forcing a preschool female relative to perform oral sex several times over a period of at least five months.
Hofland entered a guilty plea to the felony incest charge in November. His plea agreement with the Hill County Attorney's Office recommended a 15-year sentence with all but 30 days suspended and dismissal of a felony sexual assault charge.
Relatives of the victim told Buyske before the sentencing that they are angry about the recommended 30 days in jail.
Trent Hofland, Paul Hofland's son, told the judge the family has been on an "emotional roller coaster, with anxiety, depression and confusion."
Marla North, a licensed clinical professional counselor who wrote a psychosexual evaluation on Hofland for the presentence investigation, testified via video that Hofland is on the low end of presenting a moderate risk to society. She recommended he receive outpatient treatment in the community.
If the offender responds to outpatient treatment, that's often more successful than treating the offender in prison, and gives the offender the opportunity to work to provide monetary support to the victim, North said.
She said Hofland denied any responsibility in their first interviews, but started to admit responsibility later. That lead her to believe that outpatient treatment in the community could be successful.
Relatives of the victim told the judge they don't believe he is remorseful.
"I feel this man is a danger to society," Trent Hofland said. "I really want to see him get the punishment he deserves. Please give us justice."
Lorrie Hofland, Trent Hofland's wife, said she has felt betrayed by the criminal justice system because of delays in Paul Hofland's case and the recommended sentence.
Hofland was originally charged in 2003.
"How can 30 days even justify the damage?" she asked. "I want Paul to explain how he could do this. I hope the court will help prevent him from destroying any more lives."
Cheri Brindle, Lorrie Hofland's mother, told Buyske she doesn't believe Hofland is a low to moderate risk to society.
"How is he safe? How is he low risk?" Brindle asked. "I don't agree with 30 days."
Paul Hofland, who cried while making a statement to Buyske before sentencing, said it is difficult for him to talk about what he did.
"I'm starting to be able to admit that it's all my fault and no one else is to blame, least of all (the victim)," he said.
Buyske told Hofland before he sentenced him that because he was not following the sentence recommended in the plea agreement, he would give him the opportunity to withdraw his plea.
Hill County Attorney Cyndee Peterson said after the hearing that Hofland has 30 days in which to withdraw his plea.
Brindle notified authorities last fall that she had seen Hofland with two teenage girls, in violation of conditions of his release from jail while he was awaiting trial on the felony incest charge.
In January, Hofland pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of unlawful transactions with minors and two misdemeanor charges of sexual assault stemming from his contact with the teenage girls. He was sentenced to 180 days in jail with all but two suspended and was fined $200 in Hill County Justice Court.