ELKO – An Elko man charged with sexual assault received probation Tuesday, after an evaluation showed he was at moderate risk to re-offend.
Daniel Clay Goerdt, 29, received a suspended sentence of 10 years in prison with credit for 249 days served and was placed on probation for five years by District Judge Nancy Porter.
He was further ordered to register with local law enforcement wherever he established residency and have no further contact with the victim.
Goerdt pleaded no contest in a plea deal Aug. 30 to one count of attempted sexual assault, a category B felony, which reduced the original charge of sexual assault, a category A felony.
Under the initial charge, Goerdt could have been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
The sentencing came after recommendations from state officials for probation based off of the psychosexual evaluation that said Goerdt was at moderate risk for re-offending.
District Attorney David Buchler said the state “was staying silent” on recommending a sentence.
Public Defender Kriston Hill asked for probation, but if not, that the court “impose a minimum sentence.”
Goerdt was accused of sexually assaulting a woman at her residence April 1, 2015. Testimony from the victim in May revealed she had started a relationship with Goerdt that included at least one physical encounter before the incident.
At the preliminary hearing, the woman, whose age was not disclosed during the proceedings, said she invited Goerdt into her residence by text, but did not consent to sex, telling him at least 15 times “to stop and cease the sexual activity.”
An investigation following the incident by police detectives further revealed there were 2,255 text messages sent between the defendant and victim throughout their relationship, and a few after the night of the assault.
Hill said the case “reminds me a lot of the case the three of us had several years ago. I refer to it as the ‘no means yes case.’ Quite honestly there are striking similarities.”
Hill referred to the text messages and said they “were quite graphic in nature.” She also cited the victim’s interview with police detectives that came nine days after the incident where she declined to get a temporary restraining order against Goerdt as recommended by the detective.
“Your honor, it took her nine days to decide whether this is a rape or not and when she finally makes that decision in her mind, a law enforcement officer is telling her to get a TPO against this person, and she’s saying, ‘No, I’m not really worried about it, that’s not necessary,’” Hill said.
“I believe that statement more so than any other in this entire case is entirely indicative as to how she feels about this case, about my client,” Hill said. “Your honor, I think that’s incredibly telling.”
A psychosexual evaluation presented to the court reportedly showed that Goerdt was at moderate risk for reoffending, and said that his parole violations “did not involved aggressive or violent behaviors.”
“The evidence indicates that the reported incident was not predatory in nature and that poor judgment and decision making and immaturity were contributing factors,” the report said.
In the pre-sentence investigation report, the Division of Parole and Probation said it recommended probation based on the evaluation’s findings, according to representative Sara Macias.
The victim took the stand and refuted Hill’s claims about the time it took her to report the incident, explaining that she had been scheduled for that time to meet with investigators.
The woman also said she was given an option to either get a TPO or move, but that conversation was made off the record with the detective.
She read a letter to the court while on the stand, stating that during the incident Goerdt told her he was “a predator.”
She also said she had “night terrors” and insomnia for two months after the incident and has undergone trauma therapy.
“I don’t want this to happen to anyone else,” she said. “I hope he has learned something from it.”
“You can’t undo the event,” she continued. “It changes who you are.”
Goerdt spoke to the court and apologized to the victim.
“I’m sorry I did that to her. I am very sorry, I wish I could take it back,” Goerdt said. “It’s my fault and I did it. … They were my actions. It was stupid of me, but I am sorry, I’m sorry for the whole mess. I’m sorry for everything.”
“I don’t wish any ill feelings toward the victim in this case,” Goerdt said. “I wish her to have a good life.”
Goerdt was convicted of rape with a victim under 18 in 2009 and served more than two years of his sentence in the Idaho State Prison. Porter said the equivalent of the charge in Nevada is statutory sexual seduction, which is punishable by up to a year in jail and considered a gross misdemeanor.
In rendering her decision, Porter explained she “gave the case a great deal of thought. I don’t want anyone in this room to think I’ve taken it lightly.”
Porter said she cited several factors to help her come to her decision, taking into account the psychosexual report’s findings, the Division of Parole and Probation’s recommendation for probation, and the DA’s recommendation for no prison time. She also said she considered the victim’s delay in reporting the incident, limited evidence and lack of collaborating evidence.
“The scariest thing a judge does in a criminal case is place somebody on probation with the fear that they might hurt someone,” Porter said. “But I can’t base my decision on personal fear, and base my decision on the objective information before me and the facts that I find.
“So I have made this decision, Mr. Goerdt, that society is safer having you treated in the community rather than warehoused in prison where you would not likely receive the treatment that you need.”
Porter also gave a final warning to Goerdt before dismissing the court.
“I certainly hope that you do not commit a crime of this nature against anyone else, ever again. You need to understand no means no, period. You don’t guess what it means. No means no.”