Suspended UW-Madison student Nathan Friar—who was found guilty in April of second-degree sexual assault and use of force and accused of strangulation and suffocation—will not serve prison time, a county judge ruled Friday at a sentencing hearing.
Friar, of Wauzeka, Wis., will instead face eight years of probation, although Dane County Judge Josann Reynolds did not state the requirements and conditions of that probation. She ordered the 22-year-old no contact with the victim or her family and said he would remain a registered sex offender.
A woman, then 21, reported in June 2016 that Friar sexually assaulted and strangled her in his West Gorham Street apartment. She testified that Friar was “aggressive” and inflicted pain during their sexual encounter, digitally penetrating her, forcing himself on her and repeatedly choking her.
Friar, who testified the woman initiated consensual sex, was later found guilty of second-degree sexual assault and use of force. The jury, however, did not find him guilty of strangulation—saying marks left on the woman’s neck after the incident could be hickies instead of bruises—and that charge was cleared.
Noting that acquittal, Reynolds said the court can’t be certain about the exact level of force the jury relied on when reaching their verdict. She ruled it “highly unlikely” that Friar will reoffend and said he does not pose any risk to society.
The sentencing followed emotional statements from individuals on behalf of both the defense and prosecution.
“The vulnerability and anxiety that have accompanied my assault are undeniable,” the woman said, adding she could not eat normally or comfortably leave her apartment for months following the incident.
But Friar’s lawyer, Brian Brophy, in an unusual argument, said the woman’s “very active” social media presence suggests otherwise. He concluded after checking her accounts—which featured photographs of various trips and outings during the last year—that it appears she’s doing “great.”
Several family members and friends of Friar made the case that he’s been “punished enough," after being suspended from UW-Madison and losing scholarships.
Reynolds also noted the woman’s and defendant’s use of alcohol as a factor leading up to the incident.
“In this case, we have two 21-year-old college students with a significant amount of alcohol and spotty memories,” Reynolds said. “Indeed, the college campus culture of alcohol, hormones and impulsive behavior is not a good combination. In this instance and numerous other circumstances, it has resulted in poor choices and in [the woman] being traumatized and Nathan Friar being a convicted felon and a registered sex offender.”