CHIPPEWA FALLS — A rural Cornell man who grabbed a 9-year-old girl from outside her home last June and told her he was going to adopt her was convicted Friday in Chippewa County Court.
Timothy A. Rathbun, 57, 17691 250th Ave., pleaded no contest to false imprisonment, possession of a firearm while intoxicated and drunken driving. As part of the plea agreement, the kidnapping charge was dismissed.
Judge James Isaacson ordered Rathbun to serve one year in jail. He has served 286 days in jail, since the June incident, so he will be released in less than three months.
The girl’s guardian requested that Isaacson impose a longer sentence for Rathbun, in the range of three to five years in prison.
“There are 11 kids within 800 yards of where he was living and we’re all fearful of him getting out,” the woman told Isaacson.
The girl, now 10, has been attending counseling and is still afraid to ride her bike alone, the guardian said.
“She doesn’t talk about the incident. It still scares her,” she said.
Isaacson said he was going along with the plea agreement and recommended a jail sentence because he didn’t want the girl to have to relive the incident before a jury.
“I’m looking at the trauma this 10-year-old girl would face if this goes to trial,” Isaacson said.
Rathbun spoke prior to the sentencing and apologized for his actions, but he maintains it was a misunderstanding.
“I will strive to never allow this to happen again,” Rathbun told Isaacson. “I should have notified another adult that she wanted to look at my house. It was an error in judgment.”
Isaacson quickly responded, “That is an understatement.”
Isaacson placed Rathbun on probation for three years, with a requirement that he not consume alcohol or illegal drugs. Rathbun must complete an alcohol assessment and pay $811.50 for the OWI offense. Additionally, Isaacson ordered Rathbun to have no contact with the girl or her family and he must stay at least 100 yards from her. Rathbun also must pay for counseling costs up to $10,000.
According to police reports:
Rathbun stopped at the girl’s house in the town of Cleveland on June 4 and offered her a candy bar. When she refused, he grabbed her and physically pushed her into his car, telling her he was adopting her and was going to buy her a pony. Rathbun covered her mouth and called her a “stupid girl.”
Rathbun then brought the girl to his house. The girl’s parents followed and were able to retrieve her from the home. Law enforcement were called to the scene and heard at least two gunshots fired.
Rathbun eventually exited his home and was taken into custody. A 9-millimeter hand gun was later retrieved.
A preliminary breath test showed he had a .13 blood-alcohol level.
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