A Havre man convicted of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl will spend at least 15 years in prison before becoming eligible for parole.
A jury found Clarence Edward Champagne, born in 1969, guilty of sexual assault following a three-day trial in August, after deliberating for 13 minutes.
Judge Laurie McKinnon of Shelby sentenced him Friday in state District Court in Havre to 40 years in the Montana State Prison.
McKinnon ordered that Champagne would not be eligible for parole for 15 years and ordered him to pay restitution, with the restitution ongoing to the extent that the victim needs continued counseling.
Champagne was charged with the felony in 2010, after a 12-year-old girl reported he had assaulted her.
While pronouncing the sentence, McKinnon said Champagne’s violent criminal history and statements by the victim and by Champagne himself, were part of the reason for the sentence imposed.
She added that other reasons for the sentence include Champagne’s inability to be supervised in a community while on parole, his lack of employment history, and the fact that he assaulted and betrayed the trust of a 12-year-old and has not acknowledged responsibility for his actions, shows no empathy for the victim and projects blame for the charges on the victim.
She added that the fact the doctor who evaluated Champagne gave the opinion that he is a psychopath and his chance for rehabilitation is slim.
Champagne’s criminal history includes numerous misdemeanor offenses, including a partner or family member assault conviction in Hill County, and lists three separate previous sentences on felonies. He was sentenced in 1989 to probation for felony conspiracy to commit armed robbery, in 1996 to 96 months in prison for felony aggravated assault and in 2006 to 60 months in prison for felony partner or family member assault.