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A former middle school counselor turned himself in Friday at the county jail, after nearly two years of trying to avoid jail time for being caught peeping into the home of a former student with a video camera.

Paul William Patek, 41, arrived at the Yellowstone County Detention Center at about 8 a.m. to begin serving a 25-day sentence, jail officials said. Patek was placed in a high-security cell for the first 24 hours, and he is then likely to be moved into the jail's general population to complete his time, said Capt. Dennis McCave.

Patek's sentence was imposed after he pleaded no contest in February 2007 to misdemeanor charges of surreptitious visual observation and prowling. The charges stemmed from an incident on Oct. 3, 2006, when officers found him peeping through the window of a family's house on Howard Avenue.

Authorities said Patek was taking video camera images of a woman through a window. At the time, Patek was a counselor at Will James Middle School, where the woman's son had been a former student.

The school district put Patek on paid administrative leave after his arrest. He resigned at the end of the 2007 school year.

Despite his resignation and conditional admissions to the criminal charges, Patek filed two appeals to District Court. Each time, Patek's sentence was postponed as his appeals were considered.

After the second appeal was rejected in September, Municipal Judge Mary Jane Knisely issued an order Dec. 1 requiring Patek to begin serving the jail sentence on Jan. 2.

Patek and his attorney, Jeff Michael, made one last effort delay or avoid his jail sentence.

On Dec. 10, Michael filed a motion to Knisely asking for a hearing to consider a defense argument that Patek had already completed his sentence. Michael asked for the opportunity to argue that Patek's sentence had been served because it had not been stayed while his second appeal was made to the District Court.

Within hours, Deputy City Attorney Stacey Tenney responded in a motion objecting to a hearing. The prosecutor said in a one-page document that it was "uncontroverted" that Patek had not served his sentence while his case was on appeal.

Knisely quickly rejected the defense request, noting that state law mandates in such cases that a sentence be stayed while it is on appeal.

Patek's sentence also calls for him to be on misdemeanor probation for five months after his release from jail. He also was ordered to follow treatment recommendations from a psychosexual evaluation.

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