CARO (WWJ/AP) – A defense lawyer told a Michigan judge during a sentencing for a former high school softball coach that the 14-year-old girl he admitted molesting will eventually forget the sex crimes.
Thomas Warda said at the sentencing hearing for 52-year-old Mickey Gotwalt, that his client “didn’t kill this girl,” according to a court transcript obtained by The Saginaw News.
“I mean this isn’t – I don’t think she’s gonna have psychological injury the rest of her life,” Warda said Thursday. “I mean he’ll be in prison, but, you know, she’ll have forgotten all about this at some point.” The molestations took place in July and August 2010.
Warda told Tuscola County Circuit Judge Patrick Joslyn that a reasonable sentence would be four to eight years in prison, and said Gotwalt wasn’t a pedophile.
But the judge disagreed, saying the girl “will be impacted the rest of her life. This just doesn’t go away.” He sentenced Gotwalt, of Tuscola County’s Wells Township, from seven years and two months to 15 years in prison.
Gotwalt pleaded guilty to crimes involving sexual touching of the girl in summer 2010, rather than sexual penetration, and acknowledged kissing her. His plea was accepted in return for dismissal of nine other alleged sex crimes against the female student.
According to the transcript, Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark E. Reene told the judge that Gotwalt, who is married, had purchased wedding rings that he was going to give to the teen. Renee said Gotwalt intended to kill the 14-year-old’s mother and then flee the area with the teenager.
Reene also said Gotwalt’s crimes will have a lifelong impact on the teenager.
“The hope is that over time that impact will be lessened, but to suggest that she will forget about this and move on, there’s absolutely zero chance of that happening,” Reene said.
On Friday, Warda said he stood by his remarks in court.
“I simply made those comments,” Warda told The Associated Press. “The judge was upset. I just have to tell it like it is.”
Warda said the girl fell in love with her coach and sent him hundreds of text messages. While conceding that the relationship was “completely inappropriate” and shouldn’t have happened, he said Gotwalt was undergoing cancer treatment at the time and was suffering from depression.
“I’m not blaming the victim,” Warda said. “I’m just saying there are circumstances here, but nobody wanted to hear them.”
Gotwalt coached at Caro High School, about 80 miles north of Detroit. On Thursday, he apologized in court.
“I’d like to apologize to the victim, the victim’s families, my families, wife and children, the community and this court,” Gotwalt told the judge.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.