ELKO – A woman convicted of an inappropriate relationship with a 13-year-old boy tearfully apologized for her actions in Elko District Court before she was given a suspended sentence and probation.
Judge Nancy Porter sentenced Ristina Slack, 41, to the maximum of five years in prison on each count of statutory sexual seduction with a minor under 16 years old, to be served consecutively and with credit for 48 days served in the Elko County Jail.
Porter then suspended the sentence and placed Slack on five years’ probation with special conditions, one of which was to serve an additional 30 days in jail starting after the hearing ended.
“Based on the psychosexual evaluation, pre-sentence report and my knowledge of this case, I do not believe you are at risk of re-offending. You can be successfully treated in the community,” Porter said.
“However, there needs to be some more punishment other than 48 days in jail, so you are going to do another 30 days.”
“Continue with your counseling going in the direction you are going,” the judge added.
Slack was arrested a year ago and charged with lewdness with a child under 14 years of age, a Category A felony, which was punishable with life in prison with the possibility of parole in 10 years.
In September, Slack pleaded guilty to two counts of statutory sexual seduction in a plea agreement that changed the counts to Category C felonies.
In the criminal complaint filed last March, the victim disclosed to Elko school police that the relationship began in person when he dated Slack’s daughter and continued through texts that “were flirtatious in nature.”
Through texts, Slack arranged multiple meetings for the purpose of intercourse over the summer of 2015, according to the complaint.
Slack had also been a part-time food service employee at the boy's school until Dec. 1, 2015, when she was terminated.
During the sentencing phase, Deputy District Attorney Rob Lowe and defense attorney Sherburne Macfarlane argued the point of additional incarceration for Slack.
Considering if the gender roles were reversed, Lowe asked the judge for additional jail time for Slack.
“People need to know that these laws that we have are not just to protect little girls, but protect little boys too,” he said.
“This defendant has robbed this young victim of his youth, his innocence,” said Lowe. “You can’t give him back his innocence.”
“It’s a shocking case and some incarceration is required,” continued Lowe.
Lowe also said he spoke to the victim’s mother about the boy’s condition prior to the hearing.
“He’s doing well,” Lowe reported.
Macfarlane explained to the court that upon his first meeting with Slack, he saw that she “was exceedingly distraught over what she had done.”
“She has gotten a taste of what it’s like to be incarcerated,” said Macfarlane, referring to Slack’s time served. “I think it really hit home with her.”
Slack has also taken responsibility for her actions, Macfarlane added, referring to the results of a psychosexual evaluation the defendant underwent as part of her conviction.
Porter then asked Slack if she had anything to tell the court.
“There isn’t enough words to express how sorry I am for the choices I’ve made,” said Slack, who had started to cry earlier.
“I’m sorry to my daughters, their father, my family, his family, and as well as anyone else."
"The choices I’ve made have forever changed people’s lives, including mine, and for that I am truly sorry,” Slack concluded before breaking into sobs.
“It’s good that you appreciate how many people you’ve hurt through your actions,” Porter told Slack, before reviewing the results of Slack’s evaluation.
“You expressed remorse and regret in that evaluation and you’re expressing that here today,” Porter told Slack. “The evaluator felt that you did not attempt to gain her sympathy or minimize your responsibility.”
“You’re receptive to authority and willing to learn from your mistakes. A sexual violence risk assessment placed you at low risk to re-offend. You have no history of violence or aggressive behavior, no substance abuse issues.
“The crime is isolated. No prior criminal history,” continued Porter.
“You turned yourself in, to my knowledge there have been and no issues while you’ve been out on bail, and you have made all your court appearances. During counseling, you’ve been motivated to continue counseling.”
Additional conditions of the probation required Slack to continue therapy until her probation officer determines it is no longer necessary, register as a sex offender with her local law enforcement agency, and abstain from alcohol, marijuana and gambling.
After signing a form that she had read the requirements, Slack was led away by a Sheriff’s deputy.
This article was updated Feb. 15 to correct that Slack was ordered to serve her sentences consecutively, not concurrently.