Stenger receives deferred judgement, probation

Ex-school board member sentenced in Hamilton County District court Wednesday morning

A former Webster City school board member received a deferred judgement and probation Wednesday morning in Hamilton County District Court on a charge of lascivious conduct with a minor.

Paul S. Stenger, 65, entered an Alford plea on June 1 to an amended charge of lascivious conduct with a minor, a serious misdemeanor.

An Alford plea is a guilty plea in criminal court, whereby a defendant in a criminal case does not admit to the criminal act and asserts innocence.

District Court Judge Paul Ahlers issued a deferred judgment on the charge.

Ahlers gave Stenger an opportunity to address the court before handing down his decision.

“I am innocent and I have fallen through the cracks,” Stenger told the judge.

“I would offer that, through this process, the voice of the protected youth has been magnified to a level disproportionate to the ability of innocence to be proven in the eyes of a public that outrages against child abuse while bearing witness to a child’s endearing ways,” he said.

“I accept the burden of years of the remaining expectancy of my life to carry this scarlet letter to relieve my family of continued anguish.”

Stenger told the court that he took the Alford plea so that the “healing process could begin immediately.”

Seated alongside his attorney, Jason Carlstrom of Des Moines, Stenger told the judge he had complied with all of the presentence supervision and requests. He added that his work record, home ownership and lack of prior criminal record point to his stability in the community.

Stenger will face two years of probation with the Iowa Department of Corrections and will be required to register as a sex offender. He was also assessed a civil penalty of $315 and was ordered to pay restitution of $459.31, along with other fees and court costs. A no-contact order was also issued for the victim and will remain in place until August 2022.

A second charge of sexual abuse in the second degree was dismissed by the court.

Stenger, who was arrested in December 2016, had been elected to the Webster City Community School Board in September 2015.

He resigned from the board days after his arrest.