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AUSTIN EDITION - Man sentenced to 71#x2044;2; years in sex-abuse case

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

The judge called it one of the most difficult sentencings he has presided over.

The criminal sexual conduct committed by Mark Joseph Krofta against a fifth-grade girl were abhorrent, Judge Donald E. Rysavy said Thursday in Mower District Court. But the remorse Krofta has shown and the support he has won from family, friends and religious leaders "leaves the court in the position of having to balance a number of things," Rysavy said.

"In this particular case, there are no easy choices," he said.

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In the end, Rysavy followed state sentencing guidelines, sentencing Krofta to 71⁄2; years in prison after he pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He will serve a minimum of five years in prison and have five years of conditional release.

The judge also ordered Krofta, 40, 805 13th Ave. S.W., to undergo therapy and register as a sex offender.

Krofta's attorney, Evan Larson of Austin, had asked the judge for a more lenient sentence. A probation officer with the Minnesota Department of Corrections and a therapist who evaluated Krofta both suggested he serve 60 days in jail and have 25 years probation, Larson said.

Elaine Perleberg, the probation agent, testified she believes Krofta's remorse is genuine and that he's a low-range risk to reoffend.

But Rysavy decided the state sentencing guideline was appropriate. "I cannot in good conscience depart downward," he said.

According to the criminal complaint, Krofta committed many sexual acts against the girl from May 2002 to March 2003. The girl was 10 and 11 at the time of the offenses, and the sexual contact usually occurred once a week, the complaint said.

Krofta denied the allegations when talking to police in March, 2003, but in mid-May he admitted to the sexual abuse charges, the complaint says.

In a statement before Thursday's sentencing, Krofta addressed the victim, who was not in the courtroom. "I want to let you know how sorry I am," he said, adding that he has been praying for her.

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Tori Miller of the Crime Victims Resource Center read a statement in court from the victim.

"Mark had taken everything except my soul," the girl wrote. She wrote that she hears his voice in her mind, has nightmares of the acts that occurred and has been overwhelmed with mood swings and stress. "He took away my confidence," she wrote.

The girl wrote that she didn't think 71⁄2; years was a long enough sentence. If there's one thing she could say to him, she wrote, it's that "I think he is a sick man."

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