Moorhead man sentenced for sexually abusing child after trying to withdraw guilty plea
MOORHEAD — A Moorhead man was sentenced Monday, April 6, to six years in prison for sexually abusing a young child, but not before asking a judge if he could withdraw his plea claiming the mother of the child didn’t believe the allegations happened.
Christopher Allen Ochoa, 36, entered a Norgaard plea on Jan. 23 to a felony charge of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, meaning he cannot recall the facts of the case due to memory loss but did not maintain his innocence. He initially was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct after a child under the age of 10 accused Ochoa of multiple sexual assaults.
Court documents said the assaults happened between May 1 and May 23.
Ochoa’s attorney, Joseph Irby, filed a motion Friday, April 3, in an attempt to withdraw from a plea agreement. Irby said the victim’s mother said she didn’t believe the child was raped.
Clay County District Judge Michelle Lawson denied the motion, saying the mother was not a firsthand witness to the acts. The defense appeared to try to backpedal its guilty plea, even after reading thoroughly through the facts of the case and admitting guilt, Lawson added.
“I simply cannot find that it would be fair and just” to withdraw the guilty plea and dismiss the case, Lawson said.