A Natrona County judge on Thursday sentenced a Casper man to prison for sexually abusing a 13-year-old girl nearly two decades ago.
Judge Daniel Forgey sentenced Bruce Sloyer to 24 to 28 months imprisonment for a single count of taking immodest, immoral and indecent liberties with a minor. On the second count, the judge sentenced Sloyer to five years of probation in lieu of three-to-fives years imprisonment. The probationary sentence will not begin until Sloyer completes the prison time.
After Forgey handed down the sentence, a sheriff’s deputy led Sloyer, 61, from the courtroom and into custody. Although prosecutors charged Sloyer with six felony sex crimes more than eight months ago, he had remained free on bond for all but three of the intervening days.
Minutes after Sloyer had disappeared behind a courtroom door, his supporters wept in a hallway.
The case dates to 2000, when a sheriff’s investigator interviewed the girl regarding allegations that he had made her perform oral sex on him, according to court documents tied to the arrest. Because the investigator could not identify corroborating information or witness statements, the case was placed on an inactive list.
In September, authorities reopened the case when one of Sloyer’s neighbors contacted Casper police. The neighbor told police that a woman said Sloyer abused children.
Later on the same day, Sloyer called police and volunteered to speak to them. He said he had molested the girl in an Evansville basement, according to court documents. The police department handed the case over to the sheriff’s department because the crimes took place outside of Casper city limits.
In March, Sloyer pleaded guilty to the two felonies as part of a deal with prosecutors. The agreement capped prosecutors’ arguments to a three- to five-year prison sentence for one of the crimes and probation in lieu of a three- to five-year prison sentence for the other.
Prosecutors also dismissed four other sex crime counts against Sloyer as part of the agreement.
On Thursday, the abuse survivor appeared in court, where she told the judge she drove 14 hours through inclement weather to ask Forgey to sentence Sloyer to prison. The woman, who is now in her 30s, said that decades ago, when she first reported Sloyer’s abuse, her life was turned upside down.
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As a result of the report, she said, she was put in behavioral institutions and estranged from her family, who did not believe her. She said appeals to Sloyer’s religious faith should not convince Forgey to forgo incarceration.
When she turned from the lectern to directly address Sloyer, who sat at the defense table to her right, Forgey asked her to address him instead. She then told the judge that incarcerating Sloyer would send a message about Natrona County’s priorities.
“My hope is sitting on your shoulders,” she told the judge, whose inquisitive frown didn’t waver. “For so many years I have waited on this day.”
Court-appointed defense attorney Joe Cole then called Sloyer’s therapist, Joshua Kaufman, who said assessments indicated Sloyer had a roughly 4 percent likelihood of re-offending in the next five years.
After Kaufman spoke, two friends of Sloyer spoke briefly and asked Forgey to impose probation only.
District Attorney Dan Itzen, who covered the hearing for Assistant District Attorney Kevin Taheri, then told the judge that whether Sloyer had been rehabilitated was immaterial to the sentence he sought.
“Make no mistake: this isn’t about treatment-rehabilitation,” Itzen said. “This is about punishment.”
The prosecutor asked Forgey to sentence Sloyer to the maximum time allowed by the plea deal before Cole spoke.
The defense attorney said imposing a prison sentence would not serve to dissuade other predators or to rehabilitate Sloyer. He asked the judge to sentence his client to back-to-back periods of fives years of probation.
Reading from a yellow sheet of paper, Sloyer then told the judge his crimes were wrong. He said that he thought the survivor had forgiven him before prosecutors brought charges.
Forgey then sentenced the man.