OMAHA, Neb. — The Nebraska Supreme Court has reversed a lower court’s ruling that found an airman’s sentence for attempted child sex assault too lenient.
The decision came in the case of 42-year-old Jason Gibson, a former Air Force master sergeant. Gibson was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base in 2017 when he and a local youth pastor contacted then-18-year-old DeArch Stubblefield and set up sex with a 15-year-old girl. Gibson was later sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation, with the judge noting Gibson’s military service and lack of criminal history.
Prosecutors appealed, and the Nebraska Court of Appeals in November agreed that Gibson should be resentenced to prison.
But on Friday, the Nebraska Supreme Court reversed the Court of Appeals' finding, saying that while the sentence was lenient, it was not "clearly against justice or conscience, reason and evidence."
Gibson, who faced up to 50 years in prison, agreed to plead no contest to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child, a felony. The Omaha World-Herald reported that the plea agreement was reached to spare the victim from having to testify.
Klint Bitter, 35, the former youth pastor at Christ Community Church in Omaha, was sentenced in May 2018 to 10 to 20 years in prison after also pleading guilty to a reduced charge of attempted first-degree sexual assault. Under Nebraska law, sentences are typically cut in half, meaning Bitter would actually serve five to 10 years.
Stubblefield, who was a star football player for Bellevue West and also had no criminal history, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years in prison for his role.