A 22-year-old Lawrence man and his 13-year-old girlfriend said they were in love.
When he was arrested last year and charged with eight counts of statutory rape for having a sexual relationship with the girl, she stood by him.
"I am on Steve's side cuz I love him with all my heart, and nobody can ever take his place," the girl wrote in a letter that became part of the court file for Stephen C. Scott.
District Court Judge Stephen Six on Thursday ordered Scott to up to six months at the Labette County boot camp, followed by two years of supervised probation, for his sexual relationship with the girl. The sentencing came after Six denied a defense attorney's motion to give Scott a probation-only sentence - and after the victim testified on Scott's behalf at a sentencing hearing.
Under Kansas law, children under age 14 are considered legally unable to consent to sex.
The case against Scott arose last year after a school resources officer from the Lawrence Police Department learned that the girl, then age 13, was in a sexual relationship with Scott.
Scott initially was charged with statutory rape, which carries a presumed minimum sentence of more than 12 years in prison. But he was allowed to plead no contest to three counts of a lesser charge: attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
The plea dropped him into a "border box" on the state's sentencing grid, in which a judge can either give prison or probation. Judges also have the option of sending a defendant to boot camp at Labette for up to six months.
In seeking a nonprison sentence, Scott's defense attorney, Angela Keck, cited his cooperation with police, the couple's loving relationship and their plans to get married. She also cited Scott's difficulties with emotional and social skills, which she attributed to him being home-schooled starting in junior high.
Scott had no criminal history, and several friends, former teachers and family members submitted letters to the judge attesting to his character.
One condition of Scott's probation is that he have no contact with the girl. He also will be required to register as a sex offender and will be barred from having unsupervised contact with girls under age 16.
- Staff writer Eric Weslander can be reached at 832-7146.