Rogers appeals court sentence

A 66-year-old Elyria, Ohio, man sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy in Minot is appealing his case to the North Dakota Supreme Court.

Kiara Kraus-Parr, a defense attorney for Mark Allen Rogers, argues in court documents that Rogers should get a new trial because North Central District Court Judge Stacy Louser created a structural error when she closed the courtroom during a change of plea hearing at which Rogers’ competency was discussed. The judge closed the hearing at Rogers’ request because he was concerned sensitive personal details would be discussed, but Kraus-Parr argues that closing the courtroom violated Rogers’ constitutional right to a public trial.

Kraus-Parr wrote in the document that a hearing should have been held first before closing the courtroom and the judge should have considered reasonable alternatives to closing the courtroom and made findings adequate to support the closure.

Kraus-Parr also argues that Louser erred in ordering Rogers to pay $2,674.90 in restitution to Ward County. That is the cost of extraditing him back to Minot from Thailand, where he was located and arrested in 2016 after he fled Minot when he was first charged. Kraus-Parr argues that the restitution should have been part of Rogers’ bail jumping case, which was resolved seven months before he was sentenced on the sexual abuse charge. Extradition costs were effectively waived because they weren’t addressed then, she wrote. Kraus-Parr also wrote that Louser ordered Rogers to pay the restitution even though she knew he could not pay that amount. Rogers appeared at his sentencing hearing in a wheelchair and informed her he is disabled. Kraus-Parr also wrote that Ward County cannot be considered a victim in the case since it is a government entity. She wrote that the state has misapplied the law.

Aaron Birst, a special Ward County Assistant State’s Attorney, argued in a rebuttal that Louser properly closed the courtroom during the hearing and that she properly ordered Rogers to pay restitution.

Oral arguments in the appeal are scheduled for Sept. 17 in Bismarck.

Rogers was sentenced in October 2017 to 17 years in prison, with five years suspended.