The 45-year-old man who impregnated a then-15 year-old will remain on probation and the sex offender registry after Criminal Court judge Barry Steelman denied his petition to alter his sentence. Stephen Roland, who was sentenced in 2018 for the 2014 incident, was trying to get off the registry and his six-year probation.
“I’ve still never heard Mr. Roland say, in a court of law, that he’s sorry,” said Judge Steelman. “He doesn’t have to, and maybe he doesn’t feel like he needs to be. But I have not heard it. And I’m denying the petition to modify the sentence in any way.”
Judge Steelman also cited the severity of the charge, and the harsh penalty that could have been incurred if Roland had gone to trial and been found guilty of statutory rape. Rather than two years in prison or six years or probation, he could have faced four years in prison along with 12 years on probation. He said he was “struck” by the facts of the case.
“I was reminded that the victim was 15 years old at the time that she became pregnant by Mr. Roland, who was almost 40,” said the judge. “He referred to not hearing the internal warnings that he should’ve heard to not do that. And that he didn’t. That is enough of an excessive age difference that the state has made it a crime even higher than the category the district attorney allowed Mr. Roland to plead to.”
Roland and his attorney, Jay Perry, argued for a modified sentence, with his children and rehabilitation as their primary points. He told the court that his sex offender counseling had been very helpful for him, and that, despite the limitations placed upon him by being on the sex offender registry, he had a good job at a warehouse.
He asked to be taken off the sex offender registry so he could have custody of one of his children, who is currently in foster care. He told the judge the child’s mother had lost custody, and that he had gotten several “bad reports” of how the child was being cared for.
Prosecutor Jason Demastus retorted by asking about Roland’s other children, including the one he fathered with the victim. During his testimony Roland never mentioned that child, and hardly spoke of the other child. Prosecutor Demastus was also skeptical of how effective the counseling was.
“He is still in denial, and there’s no proof the counseling has helped him, there’s no proof that he’s in a particular spot in counseling,” said the prosecutor. “I find it ironic that all of a sudden, he’s concerned about this one child of his, when what about those other two of his? What about his concern for those children?”
Roland told Judge Steelman, “I guess I’d like to say that what happened was not as bad as it was portrayed as me being this manipulative, maleficent person that had a grand strategy to take advantage of a young person. I would never do that. That’s not who I am. I was a coward for not saying 'no.' I was a coward, not a predator.”