A man convicted on two counts of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in 1998 has been charged with having sexual contact with another child, a violation of his probation stemming from the first incident 16 years ago.
William Suthers, 70, was arraigned in Missoula County District Court on Thursday, facing new charges and the possible revocation of his probation.
Suthers allegedly forced a 5-year-old girl to have sexual contact during a visit last week. After his arrest, he was dropped from outpatient treatment as a sex offender.
“I am terminating Mr. Suthers from outpatient sexual offender treatment based upon his recent (incident),” wrote Brenda Erdelyi, who provided Suthers' treatment. “If found guilty of this violation, his ongoing disregard and abuse of others clearly demonstrate that (he) is unable to be safely supervised in a community setting.”
According to court documents filed by a probation and parole officer with the Department of Corrections, Suthers was convicted in 1998 on two counts of sexual assault. He received 12 years and 13 years for each count in the Montana State Prison, but all 25 years were suspended.
Less than a month after his 1998 conviction, Suthers violated the conditions of his probation by frequenting a school with children present. His probation was revoked, but again he received a chance to avoid prison.
Then in 2011, records state, Suthers was caught visiting a school in East Missoula during a church-sponsored Easter egg hunt, where he “stood within arm’s reach of the victim of his original felony offense.”
Suthers was arrested and his probation was again revoked by the court. He was committed to the state prison for 13 years with eight years suspended. His prison sentence expired in September 2011.
In the three years that have since passed, Suthers has violated two conditions of his probation. One of those conditions required him to act as a good citizen, something probation and parole officer Sean Goeddel said Suthers has failed to do.
“The defendant should never again be allowed to live in the community,” Goeddel wrote the court. “Prison is the only suitable place for a person such as this. Anything less would be a disservice to the community and would place more children at risk.”
In his petition to revoke Suthers’ probation, Goeddel noted that Suthers has been convicted on two counts of sexual assault in the past. The court has given him multiple chances “to prove he can live in the community as a law-abiding citizen.”
“Not only has the defendant failed to do so,” Goeddel wrote, “but he has also created a new victim and revictimized another.”
Suthers’ next court appearance had not been set Thursday afternoon.