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Colby man gets 3 years in prison for assaults

Colby man gets 3 years in prison for assaults Colby man gets 3 years in prison for assaults

A 37-year-old former Colby man was sentenced to three years in prison Monday after pleading no contest to two counts of second degree sexual assault of a child.

Nicholas J. Koebach, who has been living in Oconto Falls for the past year, will also serve 10 years of extended supervision as part of a plea deal reached between his attorney, Clarence Duhac, and Marathon County assistant district attorney Natalie Zibolski. As a condition of his extended supervision, he will have to register as a lifetime sex offender and will not be allowed to have any contact with minors, unless approved by his parole officer. Koebach must also maintain absolute sobriety for the 10 years he is on extended supervision and is ordered to attend alcohol and drug counseling, as well as a sex offender assessment and follow-up treatment. If he were to violate any of those conditions, he could be sent back to prison to serve more time.

Charges of false imprisonment, strangulation/ suffocation and incest by a step-parent were dismissed but read into the record. Koebach had originally been charged with two counts of first degree repeated sexual assault of a child, but those were amended to second degree.

Koebach, a firefighter and EMT in the Central Fire and EMS District, was arrested in September of 2018 after he was accused of having repeated sexual contact with two teenagers. A third alleged victim also came forward after his arrest, but that case was not charged.

Judge Greg Strasser, before sentencing Koebach, said he was taking into account the additional set of accusations, as well as the charges that were dismissed.

The judge noted that he was not bound by the plea agreement presented to him, and that he could sentence Koebach to up to 40 years in prison on each count of second degree sexual assault.

No victim impact statements were submitted to the court, but several letters were written in support of Koebach, including one from his former military commander and a few from fellow EMTs and firefighters who served with him.

The letter from retired company commander Quentin Graham said Koebach was a good soldier who exemplified military principles such as loyalty, duty, respect and personal courage.

A couple of the letters described Koebach as a “loving and caring parent” who was “great with kids.”

“As Nick was serving our country in multiple ways overseas, his family and friends were always his rock to come home to,” wrote Robert Raasch, an EMT who knew him for 12 years.

Judge Strasser said the letters of support shed light on his positive traits, but they had to be weighed against the crimes he committed.

“Obviously there is something about you that is very good,” he said. “There is also something about you that is very bad, and that’s why we’re here today. The gravity of this offense cannot be overstated.”

According to an investigation by the Colby-Abbotsford Police Department, Koebach repeatedly engaged in inappropriate sexual contact with two teenagers.

The actions were done forcibly and sometimes involved him holding a blanket over the faces of his victims, according to the police report. One of the victims told investigators that she nearly passed out because she was not able to breathe during one incident.

When interviewed by police, Koebach initially claimed he did not remember some of the things he was accused of doing due to memory loss caused by posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Koebach showed police discharge papers from the military saying he suffers from PTSD and depression. He said he also has problems with anger management and is getting psychiatric treatment through the Tomah VA clinic.

After further questioning, he admitted to forcing himself on the victims sexually and touching them inappropriately on a regular basis.

Koebach’s attorney said his client’s service-related PTSD should be taken into account when considering his sentence.

Judge Strasser said he believes that was just one factor at play in this case.

“I don’t think PTSD explains what happened here completely,” he said. “I think there are some underlying issues, but the sentence allows you to address those things.”

Judge Strasser credited Koebach for eventually accepted responsibility for his actions and sparing the victims from having to go through a trial.

The judge accepted the terms of the plea agreement, and gave Koebach credit for 88 days already served in jail. He said Koebach needs to spend time in prison and society needs to be warned of his past actions through the sex offender registry, but he also needs to take the opportunity to get treatment.

“The whole thing isn’t just about punishing people,” he said. “There has to be some redemption involved.”