By Tim Eberly
A former Montana State University-Northern student was sentenced to probation recently after pleading guilty to sexually molesting a Havre couple's 9-year-old son.
District Court Judge John Warner sentenced John Drugan, 20, of Casper, Wyo., to a six-month deferred imposition of sentence Nov. 5 for a charge of felony sexual assault. Drugan had pleaded guilty on Aug. 21. He had no prior sexual assault convictions.
A religious person, Drugan called the boy's family on Feb. 23. He said the Lord was working with him and he expressed a desire to confess something, according to court documents.
"Basically, he told me that I couldn't do this by myself," Drugan said today when reached at his parents' home in Casper. "I needed some help. I felt really guilty. Guilt is basically what drove me to (confess). I knew that I'd never get this off my chest unless I told."
A college dropout Drugan left school after completing his freshman year in 1999-'00 he visited Havre twice in August and September 2000, once to attend the Great Northern Fair and the other to visit friends when college started. Each time he visited with the victim's family, whom he met through a local church, court documents said.
During that phone conversation, Drugan told the parents he touched their son inappropriately while they were engaged in a wrestling and tickling match in the basement of their home, the criminal complaint said. The family contacted the state Department of Public Health and Human Services, which notified the Hill County Sheriff's Office.
"The first time, it was just kind of spur-of-the-moment," Drugan said. "It just kind of happened. He told me to quit and I did."
In an interview with the Casper Police Department on April 24, Drugan denied more than one incident of sexual assault, court documents said. But after Drugan agreed to take a lie-detector test, he told officers during the prepolygraph interview about two other incidents of sexual contact.
The second incident occurred on the same day as the first. The third took place a month later when Drugan drove from Wyoming in September to visit some friends at MSU-Northern.
"It bothers me, of course," said Drugan, who now delivers pizza in Casper while living with his parents. "It's not something that you can get out of your head."
A couple months after his last sexual contact with the boy, in the winter of 2000, Drugan e-mailed several members of the Havre church, asking them for their prayers for some personal issues in his life. In February, he placed the call to the family. Drugan said he has since apologized to the victim's parents, but has not spoken to the boy.
"They told me they forgave me for it," Drugan said. "They, of course, were mad. They said they were going to get the son help, just in case" he was traumatized.
Regarding the victim, Drugan said he "didn't figure it was good for him and neither did his parents" to apologize, he said. But, Drugan added, "I apologized to him at the times it happened."
As part of his sentence, Drugan attends sexual offender counseling treatment once a week.