Citing state budget problems, Waupaca County Judge Philip Kirk postponed sentencing the New London school bus driver convicted of sexually assaulting children.
In January, Delton D. Gorges, 71, pleaded no contest to felony sexual assault of a child, repeated sexual assault of a child and two misdemeanor counts of sexual assault.
Gorges appeared in court for sentencing Monday, March 14. But Kirk said he needed to consider the cost-effectiveness of the various alternatives, such as probation or prison, and whether Gorges would re-offend.
“The state government doesn’t have the money to carry its freight,” Kirk said. “Does the state have the money to incarcerate people?”
Kirk noted that it costs the state about $30,000 per year to incarcerate an individual. He said Gorges is facing up to eight years in prison, which could cost the state a total of $240,000.
Kirk granted a motion from Gorges’ defense attorney, Tom Johnson, that the defense be allowed to provide its own pre-sentencing report in addition to the one prepared by the Department of Corrections.
Kirk also asked both the special prosecutor, Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider, and the defense counsel to evaluate the costs, as well as the risks, associated with their sentencing recommendations.
“I think this type of thing needs to be contemplated by all the parties involved instead of just the judge,” Kirk said.
A woman who identified herself as the mother of two of Gorges’ victims said Kirk’s decision was unfair to the victims and their families.
“This case has gone on and on. How much money has been spent already?” she said. “Justice should be served swiftly and fairly. It is not fair to drag it on.”
Schneider said she was not surprised that Kirk asked for a risk assessment.
“It has been requested in the past,” she said. “In every case, there’s a continuum of what the court looks at during sentencing.”
Schneider said the judge was trying to balance the traditional factors of a crime’s impact on victims and the risk to public safety with the costs associated with