DARLINGTON - An Argyle teenager was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for breaking into a residence and raping an underage girl in the Town of Fayette in 2016.
Daniel Esh Fisher, 18, was sentenced in Lafayette County Circuit Court to concurrent sentences of five years in prison with seven additional years of supervision on a Class C felony count of second-degree sexual assault with the use of force and a sentence of one year in prison and two years of supervision on a Class I felony count of exposing genitals to a child.
Fisher’s sentence was unexpected, as his attorney Jane Bucher and Lafayette County District Attorney Jenna Gill had reached a joint recommendation in December of 2016 for 15 years of probation and one year of conditional jail time.
Bucher defended her recommendation, saying that, while Fisher’s crime was heinous and shocking, he was exceedingly naive due to his upbringing and age. Fisher was barely 17 years old at the time of the offense, having committed his crime on April 8, 2016, his 17th birthday.
Bucher said the Amish community in which Fisher was raised did not discuss sex-related subjects with young members, and so Fisher had no way to contextualize or discuss his urges. Fisher, who has an eighth-grade education, was unfamiliar with elementary anatomical terminology relating to sex, Bucher said, and even needed the word “naive” defined for him.
Furthermore, Bucher said that the Amish community had taken great pains to not only hold Fisher accountable during probation but also set up a system of supervisors by which he would be held accountable. Bucher argued that because of Fisher’s naivety and lack of familiarity with conventional society, a prison term would cause more harm to Fisher than good, but within the Amish community, Fisher would be watched by his peers for 15 years.
Bucher concluded that the Amish community is strongly based in forgiveness and, rather than cut Fisher off from that community permanently, it would be better to allow him to rehabilitate among the Amish.
For his part, Fisher gave a perfunctory statement expressing remorse for his actions and saying his treatment has helped him realize the damage his actions have caused.
However, Lafayette County Circuit Judge Duane Jorgenson, said he could not in good conscience abide by Bucher’s and Gill’s recommendation.
Jorgenson said that, while he admired the Amish community’s response to Fisher’s actions, Fisher’s actions themselves were violent, aggressive and premeditated to a disturbing degree.
Fisher, Jorgenson said, waited outside a home until he was sure all inside were asleep, invaded the residence, entered a girl’s bedroom, tied her down and raped her before leaving the way he came.
Jorgenson noted that Fisher’s actions indicated a preparedness to use “a remarkable level of force” and had clearly planned the entire sequence of events, even hiding his face behind a mask during the assault.
“If there was ever evidence of evil in the world, this is the picture of it,” Jorgenson said of Fisher’s actions.
After long deliberation, Jorgenson concluded, with professed reluctance, that to sentence Fisher to less than five years in prison would lessen the gravity of his offenses. After thanking the Amish community for their support, he ordered Fisher’s $50,000 cash bond be returned to the community and remanded Fisher into the custody of the Lafayette County Sheriff.
In addition to his sentence, Fisher will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and will not be allowed contact with anyone under 18 years old until the end of his term of supervision.