A judge sentenced a former nurse to prison for using his position of trust in the lives of two girls to manipulate them into allowing him to act out his sexual fantasies.
Todd Edward Kinzel, 47, appeared Tuesday before Yellowstone County District Court Judge Russell Fagg for sentencing on one count of sexual assault. A second count of sexual assault was dropped due to statutory limitations.
Kinzel was sentenced to five years incarceration with the Montana Department of Corrections followed by a 15-year suspended sentence.
Fagg designated Kinzel a level-one sex offender and ordered him to register as a sexual offender and to complete sexual offender treatment.
Kinzel, a licensed nurse, pleaded guilty to sexual assault in March, when he admitted to forcing a 13-year-old girl to remove her pants and underwear during a "breast exam" before touching her against her will. At sentencing, he also admitted to abusing a second girl, a crime he was charged with, but not convicted, due to the statute of limitations on the crime.
Michael Sullivan, former director of South Central Treatment Associates in Billings, testified at the hearing. Sullivan performed Kinszel's psycho-sexual evaluation and said Kinzel had a low risk of re-offending. He said Kinzel did not display interest in either violent sexual fantasies or pedophilia. He did display a sexual interest in adolescent females, something Sullivan said was considered non-deviant in most Western cultures.
Sullivan noted Kinzel's eagerness to get treatment after he had "struggled with sexual obsessions" for a long time.
The victim of the crime that Kinzel was not convicted of also spoke at the hearing. The now-24-year-old woman told the court her father had been absent in her life, and Kinzel had in many ways filled that role.
"I hope your sick, twisted fantasy about me ... satisfied you," the woman said. "Because it has come to an end."
The woman asked the court to send Kinzel to prison for the damage he had done to her ability to trust men and the prison of depression and anxiety she lived in after he abused her.
Yellowstone Chief Deputy County Attorney Juli Pierce recommended the 20-year sentence with 15 years suspended. She said sentencing hearings often don't focus enough on the impact caused to the victim of a crime.
"I believe all these women are very strong women, but their lives will never be the same," Pierce said. "The defendant was the adult. He took advantage of these girls at a young age, when they looked up to him."
Kinzel apologized to his victims when given a chance to speak. He said he wished he'd gone to treatment earlier and said "once again I want to express my remorse."
The victim Kinzel was convicted of abusing said there was no excuse for what he had done to her.
"My life needs to be acknowledged," she said in her victim impact statement to the court.
Fagg said he recognized Kinzel had lost his professional career as well as many of his personal relationships.
"Your life has changed forever," Fagg said. "And your victims' lives have changed forever."
Even acknowledging mitigating factors, including Kinzel's lack of criminal history, willingness to undergo treatment and acknowledgement of what he had done, Fagg said the prosecution's recommendation was the right one.
Kinzel was employed with Billings Clinic at the time of the assaults, but was never involved in direct patient care. His nursing license is set to expire at the end of 2016, though a representative from the Montana Board of Nursing was present at the hearing and said the board planned to discuss Kinzel's license at its July meeting.
Officers arrested Kinzel in 2015 when the girl reported to someone at her high school that he had abused her in 2009.
The girl told officers that when she was 13, Kinzel had touched her after asking her to remove her pants and underwear.
Kinzel wrote an apology letter before being arrested, which officers found on his work computer. In it, Kinzel admitted abusing one of the girls.
"(The exam) was simply an excuse to have you take off your bra and pull down your pants," Kinzel wrote to the girl. "Stethoscopes do work on top of shirts too, not just under them."