A former middle school counselor who spent nearly two years trying to avoid jail time after he was caught peeping into the home of a former student with a video camera turned himself in this morning at the county jail.
Paul William Patek, 41, arrived at the Yellowstone County Detention Center to begin serving a 25-day sentence at about 8 a.m., jail officials said. Patek was processed through booking and placed in a high-security cell for the first 24 hours, said Capt. Dennis McCave.
Patek will likely be moved into the jail's general population to complete his time, McCave said.
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 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 continued to wage a legal battle by filing 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 being considered in 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 incarceration is delayed under state law when a conviction and sentence are appealed.
Patek's sentence also calls for him to be on misdemeanor probation for five months following his release from jail. He also was ordered to follow treatment recommendations from a psychosexual evaluation.