JOHNSTON, Iowa – One of the final two defendants in the assault case of a Johnston High School classmate has taken a plea deal in the case and the other is scheduled to do so later this week.
Ritter Stahlbaum and Morgan Hough were initially charged with second-degree sexual abuse, first-degree robbery, and felony assault–penetration of the genitalia-anus in connection with an incident involving a classmate. Investigators say the two, along with Kaden Dishman and Noah Lamar assaulted the teen victim at Hough’s home in 2017. The incident was recorded on numerous cell phones.
After several delays in the trial and attempts to get the charges dismissed, Stahlbaum reached a plea deal with prosecutors and was sentenced last week. According to court records, Stahlbaum took an Alford plea to one count of first-degree theft, which is a felony, and a misdemeanor count of credit card fraud. That means he doesn’t admit guilt on those charges but realizes there is enough evidence to convict him. He also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of assault causing bodily injury.
The judge deferred the prison sentence and ordered Stahlbaum to complete five years of probation and pay court costs and fines.
The judge also stated, per agreement of both parties, that “None of the crimes committed by the defendant were sexually motivated and the Court, fact finder, has made no finding of a sexually motivated intent…”
A plea hearing on Morgan Hough’s case is scheduled for Friday morning at the Polk County Courthouse.
The pair had been scheduled to stand trial in January of 2020.
Dishman and Lamar were charged as minors and pleaded guilty to lesser charges in the case.
All four of the suspects and their parents are being sued in civil court by the family of the victim. The trial date in the civil case has been set for August 17, 2020.