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Belle Fourche man sentenced to 12 days in attempted rape, stalking case

August 1, 2018

BELLE FOURCHE — A Belle Fourche man charged with attempted rape, stalking, and use or possession of drug paraphernalia was sentenced to 12 days in the county jail.

On June 6, Robert Wayne Kenstler, 34, pleaded guilty to stalking in accordance with a plea agreement with Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt. In exchange, Wendt dismissed the remainder of the charges.

Wendt spoke at Kenstler’s July 23 sentencing hearing and said that Kenstler’s criminal history revolved around alcohol.

“He has multiple DUI related arrests on his record,” she said. “In between those are disorderly conducts and assaults (charges). I think that it’s time that he (Kenstler) go back and address his drinking and his drug use.”

In his preliminary sentence investigation report, Wendt said that Kenstler indicated that he uses marijuana.

“What I see however, and what I’m concerned with, is that he simply replaced alcohol with marijuana and continues to self medicate,” Wendt said. “I think no substance use is going to be very important in this case as he indicates that started when all of this fell apart and occurred (the allegations in the case).”

Wendt noted that she was impressed by Kenstler’s taking responsibility for his actions in this case.

“Taking that responsibility for him to provide the information that he did regarding apologizing to the victim in this case and really seeing where she came from in coming to law enforcement,” she said. “I think that’s a very positive thing.

Wendt asked the court to sentence Kenstler to two years in the state penitentiary with suspended execution of sentence and two years probation.

Tim Barnaud, Kenstler’s defense attorney, admitted his client, a veteran, has a propensity toward alcohol and he’s seeking counseling through the Veteran Administration. Barnaud requested the court consider not order Kenstler to serve any more jail time so that he can continue to work and care for himself and his animals for which he is responsible.

“Your honor, we’re just requesting that the court suspend any penitentiary sentence in this matter, and also that it give him credit for the two days served (in jail), and place him on supervised probation,” Barnaud said.

At his hearing, Kenstler told the court that although he has not drank alcohol in nearly five years, he uses marijuana to deal with his self-proclaimed anger problem. He said much of the criminal charges in this case could be directly to his anger problem.

“I feel it’s hard to control,” he said.

Kenstler apologized for his actions.

“I’m sorry for her (the victim),” he said. “I just flipped out, angry.”

According to court documents, on Nov. 29, 2017, an adult female reported to Belle Fourche Police Officer Dylan Bell that Kenstler, with whom the woman reported having an extramarital affair five or six years prior, had sent her numerous Facebook messages threatening to tell her current significant other and her family members about their affair if she did not have sex with him.

Additionally, the reported victim said that Kenstler mentioned in the messages the names of three other friends of the victim’s that had also had affairs, demanding sex from them to avoid the truth coming out about their affairs.

The messages reportedly show that Kenstler classified the plot as “revenge sex” and gave the victim a two-day window to respond before he started leaking information about their former affair.

In a Nov. 29, 2017, statement to Bell, Kenstler reportedly said he’d contacted the victim six years after their last communication because he “started to think about how she did him wrong six years ago and that he felt compelled to talk to her about it.”

When asked what he was seeking to accomplish by contacting the victim so long after their affair ended, Kenstler reportedly said he wished to warn the people in the victim’s life that she is a cheater and that the people close to her had a right to know about their affair.

Kenstler was placed under arrest Nov. 29, 2017, for stalking and use or possession of drug paraphernalia following the discovery of two smoking pipes with marijuana residue located in the center console of his car.

Kenstler bonded out of jail the following day.

On Dec. 12, 2017, a Butte County grand jury indicted Kenstler on one count of second degree attempted rape, a Class 2 felony, punishable by up to 25 years in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $50,000, and one count of stalking, a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in the county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.

Butte County State’s Attorney Cassie Wendt submitted a Part II Information filing Dec. 15, 2017, moving to establish that Kenstler is a habitual offender due to his June 5, 2012, felony conviction for driving under the influence, third offense, in Lawrence County.

According to South Dakota Codified Law, “if a defendant has been convicted of one or two prior felonies, in addition to the principal felony, the sentence for the principal felony shall be enhanced by changing the class of the principal felony to the next class which is more severe…”

In Kenstler’s case, for sentencing purposes, the attempted rape charge could be enhanced to a Class 1 felony, making it punishable by up to 50 years imprisonment in the state penitentiary and a fine of up to $50,000.

On Jan. 17, Kenstler failed to appear to his arraignment, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Kenstler was additionally charged with failure to appeal, a Class 6 felony, punishable by up to two years imprisonment in the state petitionary and a fine of up to $4,000.

Kenstler was rearrested and released on bond on Jan. 19.

On Jan. 31, Kenstler pleaded not guilty to all charges and entered a denial to the Part II Information filing.

It is the Pioneer’s policy not to name sexual assault victims and in this case, because Kenstler was charged with attempted rape, the victim would fall into this category.

Fourth Circuit Judicial Court Judge Michael Day, who presided over the case, expressed to Kenstler his confusion with his actions at his July 23 hearing.

“When you decided to contact the victim in this case, somebody that you hadn’t had really any contact with for six years, it’s just hard to fathom why you would do such a thing,” he said. “I understand you have ongoing mental health issues which probably came into play, but that’s still no excuse.”

Day told Kenstler that if he is going to be successful long-term, he needs to maintain his sobriety.

“You need to continue to address your mental health issues, including anger,” he added.

Day said he was willing to give Kenstler a second chance on probation considering his sobriety, lengthy employment, and willingness to take accountability in the case.

“I am concerned with the monthly marijuana use because in South Dakota it is not legal and it would be a violation of your probation,” Day told Kenstler. “You just can’t do it.”

Day sentenced Kenstler to two years in the state penitentiary with execution of that sentence suspended upon the condition that he remain on supervised probation for two years; serve 12 days in the county jail by Sept. 30 with credit for two days already served; and pay a $500 fine, $104 to the Law Enforcement Officer Training Fund, $28.40 worth of prosecution costs, and that he pay the Butte County Auditor for the costs of incarceration and his court appointed attorney’s fees. Additionally, Day order Kenstler to utilize the VA services to further his recovery and continue addressing his mental health issues.

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