Paperwork problems delay sentencing

A Moffat County High School graduate skipped her college classes and drove 150 miles Tuesday to face her former golf coach -- a man convicted of coercing her into a sexual relationship.

She left a Moffat County courtroom in tears and without having her say.

Thomas J. Dockstader, 45, pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to unlawful sexual contact by coercion, a Class 4 felony, and unlawful sexual contact, a misdemeanor.

Dockstader originally was charged with sexual assault of a child by a person in a position of trust and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. He was later charged with violating a restraining order and violating bond conditions by being at the Yampa Valley Golf Course at the same time his victim was there.

Dockstader pleaded guilty to lesser charges in September on the condition he serve probation for the misdemeanor and the felony charge be dropped in four years if he complies with conditions of the agreement.

Under the agreement, he will be required to register as a sex offender and undergo treatment.

Dockstader was scheduled for sentencing Tuesday, but paperwork delays caused 14th Judicial District Judge Michael O'Hara to reschedule the sentencing for Nov. 22.

Dockstader's attorney did not receive a final sentence recommendation from the Moffat County Probation Department until Monday. State law re----quires the recommendation be available 72 hours before sentencing.

Probation Supervisor Ann--ette Norton originally recommended that O'Hara reject the plea agreement because she thought a sentence of prison time was mandatory in all felony convictions for sexual crimes. Assistant District Attorney Amy Fitch informed Norton that wasn't the case. Norton submitted a revised recommendation.

Fitch argued Tuesday there was no need to delay sentencing because Norton's revised recommendation reflected the terms of the plea agreement.

But, the results of a polygraph test, which are necessary for the Norton to complete a parental risk assessment, also were not available Tuesday. Dockstader has two children.

O'Hara said he was reluctant to reschedule the sentencing because the victim had traveled so far to appear in court.

"I feel badly about what is happening," he told the victim's father. "One thing is happening that I didn't anticipate, and that is the inconvenience to your daughter, but I have no discretion here, so I have to grant the motion to continue."

O'Hara offered the victim and her family the chance to speak to save them another trip to the courtroom.

"I can give you the opportunity to comment today, and I guarantee you I'll keep your comments in mind when we go forward with sentencing," he said.

The family declined the offer. They said they would address the court Nov. 22.

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