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Former ND cabbie given 6-year sentence for rape of passenger

Christian Desir Submitted photo

WILLISTON, N.D. -- A judge has ordered a former Williston cab driver to serve six years in prison for raping a woman who was a passenger in 2017.

Northwest District Judge Kirsten Sjue sentenced Christian Desir, 24, to 20 years in prison for felony count of gross sexual imposition, and ordered 14 years of that sentence suspended. Desir entered an Alford plea in February. In such a plea, a defendant does not admit guilt but does agree that the prosecution has enough evidence to convince a jury to return a guilty verdict.

Desir was charged with gross sexual imposition after police said he picked up a woman in his taxi, took her to his house, made her a drink, left, then returned later and had sex with the woman while she was too intoxicated to consent.

During Monday’s hearing, the woman Desir was accused of raping told Sjue that the situation had left her with trust issues and feeling confused. Desir had claimed to be her friend, she said, but he’d taken advantage of her when she was intoxicated.

“I do feel like he should be punished for what he did, so it doesn’t happen to someone else,” the woman said.

Sandy Jones, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, asked Sjue to sentence Desir to serve 12 years in prison. She argued that although he entered an Alford plea, he hasn’t taken responsibility for what he’d done.

“In all his letters, in his (pre-sentence investigation), he doesn’t take responsibility for this,” Jones said. “He thinks he got a raw deal.”

Daniel Borgen, Desir’s attorney, argued that the prosecution was asking for too steep a sentence given what had happened. He said his client understood what he had done was wrong, but that he had a somewhat limited grasp of English and didn’t understand that it met the legal definition of rape.

Borgen asked for Sjue to give Desir a time-served sentence instead, saying he was facing deportation.

“The reality of Christian’s situation is that he’s not a U.S. citizen and that when he’s released from custody, he’ll be facing deportation,” Borgen said.

Jones, however, said there is no guarantee Desir would be deported and that a sentence of time served would be an injustice.

Sjue said local courts don’t handle deportation, so she wasn’t considering that when imposing her sentence. And, she said, even though Desir didn’t have any criminal history, the charge against him was serious, and so still required a serious punishment.

“One of the most sacred things a person has is bodily autonomy,” Sjue said, and Desir had violated that when he’d had sex with the woman and she was too intoxicated to consent.

In addition to prison time, probation and sex offender registration, Sjue ordered Desir to complete sex offender treatment either while in prison or while on probation.