Three years in prison for Siren man
Confessed to sexual assault of mentally handicapped woman
by Sherill Summer
Leader staff writer
SIREN - Burnett County Circuit Court Judge Ken Kutz was first scheduled to sentence 73-year-old Ron Potvin of Siren in March, but didn’t. Back in March, Burnett County District Attorney Bill Norine and defense attorney Jim McLaughlin pushed for quick closure for Potvin’s case in which he admitted sexually assaulting a mentally handicapped woman on several occasions between 2011 and 2012.
Potvin had confessed to the assault in an interview to law enforcement and in writing, and had indicated that he was willing to resolve the case quickly. Kutz had two sentence recommendations in front on him - one was a joint recommendation from the prosecution and defense and the other was from the state department of corrections in a presentence investigation report.
But the judge said he was not ready to sentence Potvin without more information, and he ordered a sex-offender evaluation.
Sentencing resumed on Monday, May 20. Potvin was sentenced to three years in prison followed by 15 years of extended supervision. The sentence was more than the joint recommendation by the attorneys that called for a one-year jail sentence without Huber release or community service and a 20-year probation. It was less than the five- to six-year prison sentence recommended by the department of corrections and far less then the 12 to 18 years asked for by the family of the victim.
In sentencing, Kutz indicated that this was one of the most troubling decisions he has had to make as a judge. He called Potvin’s character “the gold standard” in that he has no prior convictions, has never been incarcerated, has shown remorse for his actions and has cooperated with law enforcement during the investigation. There was also the fact that probation was the preferred sentence in the sentence guidelines judges use to help determine appropriate sentences.
On the other hand, the judge noted, Potvin’s offense was serious, especially since Potvin was in a position of trust and responsible for her care as a bus driver that drove the victim to and from work. The sex-offender evaluation also cited that some indicators pointed to a moderate risk for reoffending.
After weighing both sides, Kutz decided that by not sentencing Potvin to a prison sentence for this action, he would unduly depreciate the offense.
A tearful Potvin said in a statement prior to sentencing that he was sorry and ashamed of his action, and he was glad he got caught because he had tried to quit doing what he knew was wrong, but couldn’t.
Potvin was ordered to undergo sex-offender treatment, either in prison or on extended supervision. He is to register as a sex offender and is not allowed on computers with Internet access. He is to have no contact with the victim, the victim’s family, children under 18 or mentally disabled individuals. A restitution amount is still to be determined.