LOGAN — A judge expressed frustration with state sentencing guidelines as he ordered Paul Costel to serve one year in jail for sexually abusing a woman last summer. Judge Brian Cannell said the 105 days recommended by the Utah Sentencing Commission’s general matrix was inappropriate, after hearing tearful testimony from the victim and her family.
Costel appeared in 1st District Court Thursday afternoon. The 21-year-old Logan man previously pleaded guilty to one count of forcible sexual abuse, amended to a second-degree felony.
The assault occurred on June 27 after the defendant had reportedly been drinking. The woman told police how he forced her to have sex with him, even though she fought against him and said “no” repeatedly.
During sentencing, Costel told the court he was deeply apologetic to the victim. He blamed his actions on immaturity and a lack of control with alcohol. His defense attorney, Susanne Gustin, earlier had said her client made a horrible mistake and felt terrible about it.
The victim pleaded with the court to send Costel to prison, saying that he had raped her. She explained that he didn’t know how hurtful the assault was and changed her life forever.
The victim’s parents then described how their daughter wakes up crying, suffering flashbacks that have caused her to develop post-traumatic stress disorder. She is also terrified around men and struggled with thoughts of suicide. They expressed that no matter what the court ordered Costel to, “she has already been sentenced to a life of hell.”
Cache County deputy attorney Jacob Gordon said Costel still has not taken responsibility for what he did. He explained that the sentencing guidelines from the Utah Legislature, suggesting the 105 days, don’t take into effect the damage done to a victim.
Judge Cannell told the victim, he appreciated her courage, honesty and goodness, making her statement before the court. He said he hoped she can find joy again.
Judge Cannell sentenced Costel to 365 days in jail and 48 months on probation. He also ordered him to have no contact with the victim or her family. He said the defendant made choices last summer that justified his sentence.