Jordan Scott Bahr, who pleaded guilty at the end of his trial in December to sexually assaulting a Missoula woman, was sentenced Monday to 10 years in the Department of Corrections with eight suspended by District Court Judge Robert “Dusty” Deschamps.
"I don't see much value in incarcerating you apart from pure punishment, but I think you need some pure punishment," Deschamps said.
Rather than presenting his defense on the fourth and final day of his trial, 30-year-old Bahr pleaded guilty to felony sexual assault. He was originally charged with sexual intercourse without consent — Montana’s statute for rape.
The charge to which he pleaded guilty carries a mandatory minimum of four years in prison, although judges can impose less time if they issue a written report stating their reasons. Deschamps said he was going below the minimum sentence for several reasons, including that he didn’t think Bahr was a danger to re-offend.
In October 2015, a woman met Bahr through a group of mutual friends at a bar in downtown Missoula. The two later bicycled home together because Bahr lived along the way. They went into his house when they arrived and she asked to sleep on his couch because she felt intoxicated and didn’t think it was safe to ride the rest of the way home.
The woman turned down a pair of offers to sleep in Bahr’s bed, but said he could lie on the couch with her. Almost immediately, he began an increasing series of sexual assaults against her. The woman testified freezing up during the incident, unable to fight back. She eventually dressed and left the home after Bahr stopped.
“He chose to rape me. It was not by accident or mistake,” she said Monday at the sentencing hearing. “The last part of being raped ends today.”
The sentence Deschamps imposed was lighter than the 20 years in prison with 15 of those suspended that prosecutor Jennifer Clark asked for, but harsher than the fully suspended sentence recommended by a probation officer who wrote Bahr’s presentence report.
Defense attorney Mat Stevenson asked for a deferred sentence, saying during the roughly two-hour incident, Bahr was never told "no" or "stop" by the woman.
“I think that this case is distinguishable from cases of true force,” he said.
Deschamps interrupted him.
“You can make your arguments but it’s a waste of breath,” the judge said.
In his own brief statement, Bahr said he was sorry and held himself accountable for his actions.
“I feel a great deal of remorse for them,” he said in a flat, disinterested tone that Deschamps picked up on.
“It sounds like you’re just mouthing these words,” the judge told him.
Deschamps imposed a pair of additional conditions that were requested by the woman. First, Bahr must at some point during his sentence research and write a 15-page paper on the topic of sexual assault, citing at least 10 sources.
He must also write a letter of apology to the woman, her partner and her family. Deschamps made a special point of adding the word “sincere” to this requirement.
“I want something that shows some genuine thought and compassion.”