Sprenger to go to trial on GSI charge

A 31-year-old former Minot man was set Thursday to change his plea to guilty of sexual abuse of two babies and toddlers over a decade ago. However, Timothy Sprenger changed his mind and now wants to go to trial.

Sprenger is charged with gross sexual imposition and continuous sexual abuse of a child, both Class A felonies. Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney Marie Miller said the state plans to file paperwork alleging that Sprenger is a dangerous or mentally abnormal offender. If the state is able to prove this, the prosecution would be able to ask that Sprenger be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole upon conviction. A Class A felony ordinarily carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Sprenger is alleged to have molested two girls at some point between September 2004 and January 2009. He allegedly exposed himself to one of the girls and touched her over her clothing up to 13 times when she was between the ages of one and three. He allegedly inappropriately fondled the other girl on one occasion when she was between the ages of six months and one year.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed with the court, Sprenger was living with his brother and sister-in-law in Georgia when he wrote an account of the alleged abuse in a journal. Sprenger ripped the journal to shreds and threw it in the trash. His brother found the fragments when he was taking out the garbage, pieced it together and told his wife, who made a report to law enforcement in Georgia. Sprenger then allegedly confessed what he had done to law enforcement officials in Georgia and to police in Minot when he was extradited back to North Dakota. Sprenger also wrote in the journal that he is aroused by images of babies and toddlers.

Sprenger’s defense attorney, Kyle Craig, had argued at his preliminary hearing that the case is based entirely on Sprenger’s confession and there is no physical evidence. Craig argued that the account in the journal might be fantasy. Sprenger previously pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Judge Todd Cresap said Thursday that the case will likely be set for trial in July, August or September. The state has said up to two weeks might be required for trial. Law enforcement witnesses from out of state are expected to testify as well as local law enforcement.

– Andrea Johnson