A Helena district judge called the sexual abuse of three children by a Helena man “unforgivable,” before sentencing him to 100 years in the Montana State Prison on Thursday.
In a plea deal, Cody Kyle Fettig, 31 at the time of his 2017 arrest, pleaded guilty to a single count of sexual intercourse without consent. He was originally charged with eight sexual crimes involving children before pleading guilty in June.
Judge James Reynolds sentenced Fettig to 100 years and ineligible for parole for 25 years. He must complete sexual offender treatment to be considered for parole. If released, he will remain under the supervision of the Montana Department of Corrections for the remainder of his life, must register as a Tier 2 sex offender, and must have no contact with the victims or their immediate family.
Reynolds’ sentence followed nearly two hours of testimony and emotional statements by the victims’ mothers and two of the victims. The victims described abuse starting before they were 12, which lasted for years.
The victims and their mothers described intense emotional scarring from the abuse, but also bullying that followed media coverage of Fettig’s charges. One mother told the court she was only willing to accept the plea to protect her daughter from continued public attention and news coverage.
“No matter what sentence you are given, Cody, it will never be enough for what you have ripped from their lives,” one mother told the court.
Lewis and Clark County Deputy Attorney Melissa Brock and Detective Bill Pandis said Fettig was “grooming” the girls before raping them, referring to actions that break down physical barriers before abuse. They offered evidence that the abuse was premeditated and that he attempted to hide incriminating evidence after one of the victims came forward. Before investigators, Fettig first denied the allegations and later made statements that portrayed one of the victims as a “co-conspirator,” Brock said.
Fettig’s attorney countered that his client’s actions were not uncommon when dealing with sexual offenders, and that part of the treatment includes understanding his role as the perpetrator and their role as victims. A psycho-sexual evaluation found that Fettig would be amenable to treatment and that he admitted to the allegations and displayed remorse.
Although not a legal defense, one point of contention was whether alcohol played a role in the crimes. Fettig’s attorney, brother and sister described a history of alcoholism, although all said they understood it was not an excuse. The brother struggled to read a statement in support of Fettig before apologizing to the victims, and saying he did not fully understand how “dark” the abuse was.
Pandis testified that it was impossible to know if Fettig was drunk at the times of the abuse, although the victims believed alcohol was not a factor. Brock, calling him a “danger to our community,” noted that Fettig could not have been drunk during the entirety of the abuse and other actions necessary to keep the abuse hidden.
Fettig spent nearly the entirety of the hearing with his head and eyes down, crying at times before making a statement.
“I would like to apologize to those I hurt. I know it does nothing to ease the pain, and if I could take back everything I would in a heartbeat,” Fettig said.
Reynolds first applauded the “bravery” of the victims who testified and told them that they should not let Fettig’s actions define them. Reynolds then turned to Fettig, saying that based upon what he had heard and seen, he was not convinced that he was amenable to a shorter sentence and treatment.
“You have pled guilty to the charge, but I don’t think you’ve taken responsibility for it,” Reynolds said. “I am not convinced that you’ve taken responsibility. I am not convinced that in some part of your mind that you were led on by these little girls. And even if you don’t believe that, the fact that they were little girls ... is even worse. It’s unforgivable, it’s absolutely unforgivable.”