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Man convicted of molestation: 'I am no monster'

FARGO - A 39-year-old man convicted of molesting an 8-year-old girl in a car outside a Fargo video store three years ago maintained his innocence at sentencing Monday, telling the judge, "I am no monster."

Judge Douglas Herman sentenced Dominic Roberto Jones in Cass County District Court to 10 years in prison, with all but two years suspended and 243 days of credit for time served. Jones also must serve five years of supervised probation and register as a sex offender.

His attorney, Ted Sandberg, called the sentence "entirely appropriate."

He said Jones still denies committing the crime, "but he also understands the situation he's in. He also understands that there were facts the court was able to rely upon to find him guilty."

Herman convicted Jones after a bench trial May 8.

Sandberg sought a lighter sentence, saying Jones' serious stuttering problem, mental issues and health problems would make prison time worse for him than for most people.

In a letter to the court, Jones wrote, "I'm sorry for the victim and I hope that she's doing OK," but he also insisted that he is innocent and not a violent person. He told police he was rubbing the girl's back and trying to console her, court records show.

"I am no monster. I don't get sexual pleasure in touching or fondling kids," Sandberg said, reading aloud from the letter.

Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Ryan Younggren sought a five-year prison sentence. He said Jones' refusal to admit that he molested the girl - despite statements from the victim and an eyewitness who told police he saw Jones touching the girl over her clothing for three to four minutes - factored into his recommendation.

"It is so important for sex offenders to acknowledge responsibility, and before he can complete his treatment, he's going to have to get to that point," Younggren said. "So, without that, I know that there's still a long road ahead for him."

Younggren said the sentence was reasonable.

Jones, who had no prior criminal record, was 36 years old at the time of the incident on July 14, 2009, outside the Take 2 Video store at 4501 15th Ave. S., which has since closed. He lived with his brother in Fargo for eight months in 2009 and was acquainted with the victim.

He will be allowed to serve his probation in Kansas City, where his family lives.