Guilty pleas entered in sexual assault
FARGO -- An Argusville man accused of breaking into the off-campus apartment of three North Dakota State University students and sexually assaulting two of them at knifepoint in December pleaded guilty to a raft of felony charges Monday.
FARGO - An Argusville man accused of breaking into the off-campus apartment of three North Dakota State University students and sexually assaulting two of them at knifepoint in December pleaded guilty to a raft of felony charges Monday.
Stanley Joe Busche, 40, entered his pleas after the prosecution and defense agreed that both sides would recommend to Cass County District Judge Steven Marquart that Busche receive a 15-year prison sentence, prosecutor Cherie Clark said.
The judge can depart from the recommendation. But because of the crimes involved, Busche must serve at least 14 years in prison under North Dakota’s minimum-mandatory sentencing laws.
Clark said the prosecution would have sought a longer sentence, but a limited amount of DNA evidence created the risk of a test not showing the presence of Busche’s DNA. Such a test result would have made the case tougher to prove, she said.
“If we would have got a positive DNA test on the defendant, we would surely be asking 20 years to life,” Clark said in an interview after Monday’s hearing.
Speaking flatly and showing little emotion, Busche pleaded guilty to two counts of gross sexual imposition, telling the judge it wasn’t his intention to commit those crimes when he went to the students’ apartment. Busche also pleaded guilty to single counts of terrorizing, attempted gross sexual imposition and conspiracy to commit tampering with physical evidence. On a burglary count, he entered an Alford plea, which is not an admission but an acknowledgement that there’s enough evidence for a conviction.
“Very early on, Mr. Busche came to a decision to accept responsibility for his actions in regard to these three girls,” Busche’s attorney, Steven Mottinger, told the judge.
The attack occurred Dec. 20 in an apartment at the Bison Arms complex, less than a block from the NDSU campus. Busche “grabbed all three of the girls. He brandished a knife. He terrorized them. He made them take off their clothes. He ordered them to be models for his camera,” Clark told the judge.
“The girls, at this time, were all terrified,” Clark said. “They were telling each other just to calm him down, make him happy, do what he said, so that they wouldn’t die.”
Busche sexually assaulted two of the young women, and the third escaped the apartment, running naked down the hall, Clark said. Busche then fled, and eight days later, he turned himself in to authorities.
While in the Cass County Jail, Busche was recorded on a jail phone telling his parents to go to his home and retrieve panties he stole from another apartment in 2013, according to court papers.
In later calls, Busche’s parents told their son they recovered a baggie with panties, court papers stated. As part of plea negotiations, it was agreed that his parents will not face criminal charges, Clark said.
Busche’s sentencing date has not been set. He remains in custody at the county jail.