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Guilty plea in sex assault; no sentence yet

Sep 9, 2012 - By Joshua Scheer, Staff Writer

A Riverton man has pleaded guilty to one felony count of third-degree sexual assault and one count of misdemeanor sexual battery as part of an agreement with prosecutors.

Lander's 9th District Judge Norman E. Young did not immediately accept the plea deal at the Aug. 17 hearing, and a pre-sentencing investigation is under way.

Ryan Allen Foos, 25, originally was charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault involving a minor, according to documents filed in Riverton Circuit Court in February. With those charges, Foos would face up to 20 years for each count.

The case later was bound over to the 9th District Court in Lander.

The charges were amended Aug. 1 to those in the plea agreement.

According to court documents, the felony charge, for subjecting a victim to "sexual contact without inflicting sexual intrusion," carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison. The misdemeanor was for "unlawfully subjecting another person to any sexual contact."

Foos was represented at the hearing by Gordon Ellis, and county deputy attorney Kathy Kavanagh led the prosecution.

Per the plea agreement, if accepted by Young, Foos would receive five years probation for the third-degree sexual assault charge. For the misdemeanor he would be credited his seven days served in jail and discharged.

Foos is out on a $10,000 bond, which was reduced from an original $50,000.

About eight individuals attended the change of plea hearing.

Young explained the terms of the agreement to Foos.

"It's a very useful statute," he told Foos of Wyoming statute 7-13-301, which allows certain first-time offenders some benefits. "It's very advantageous to a young man in your position. ... It's very rare a person gets a chance at a '301.'"

Young said should Foos complete his probation without violation, he would not be convicted as a sex offender.

"The flipside is pretty steep," Young said, noting that a probation violation would result in an automatic conviction.

The alleged incidents occurred between Jan. 1, 2005, and Dec. 31, 2006, and Foos was required to give an account of what happened.

"These are tough circumstances," Young said.

All parties involved, including Kavanagh, accepted one account to satisfy both guilty pleas.

Kavanagh asked for Young to address part of the plea agreement that states that if Foos violated his bond, the agreement would be voided, and he would not be able to withdraw his plea.

Should Young reject the agreement, Foos could withdraw his plea and prosecution would continue on all charges.

"The victim's family is asking the defendant not to drive down their street past the victim's house," Kavanagh said, in addition to requesting no harassment of the victim such as "pointing and laughing in public."

Young ordered Foos to stay off the victim's street.

"I don't like that sort of thing," Young said of the harassment. "I don't like it one bit."

He then addressed Foos and family members who were in attendance.

"This is a tough deal, and I understand that ... but you stood up and pled guilty," Young said. "(The victim) didn't have a thing to do with this in any way. This was your deal."

He then told the family to "ratchet things back a bit."

Ellis said he would advise the rest of the family of Young's statement.

Other case

One of Foos's relatives, Amanda Jean Foos, is facing similar charges.

Fremont County Attorney Brian Varn said the cases were "completely unrelated," though he confirmed Amanda Foos is Ryan Foos's aunt.

According to documents filed in Riverton Circuit Court in May, Amanda Foos was charged with six felony sexual counts. Five of the six were bound over to District Court, and on Aug. 2 she pled not guilty to the five.

She is charged with third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, soliciting to engage in illicit sexual relations, attempted incest and two counts of first-degree attempted sexual abuse of a minor.

Bond, set at $20,000, has not been met. That was decreased from an initial $50,000.

The case is set for a jury trial Nov. 12.

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