AUGUSTA, Kan. — Butler County residents are up in arms in response to the sentencing of former Augusta police officer, Jerry Ballinger.
Ballinger pleaded guilty to attempted aggravated indecent liberties with a child but will not be going to prison.
Several residents reached out to KSN to share their concerns about what most people in town think was an “unfair” sentence. In fact, the issue received a lot of attention online.
Matt Engels, a citizen of Butler County, told KSN he is disappointed and most residents are “shocked”.
Several residents are also concerned Ballinger received “special treatment” because he is a former police officer.
“I think that the sentencing should be across the board, fair for everyone, no matter what their profession is. I believe that if you’re an adult and you have sex with a child, you should go to jail,” said Engels.
Engels wrote an open letter to Honorable Judge David Ricke. It has been circulating online. In it he writes, “Judge Ricke, it seems to me that you are more interested in providing for the party who committed a revolting crime than providing the responsible level of protection and justice for the wronged.”
Engels also wrote that the judge did not do his job and “failed the trust of this community.”
Outside his home Wednesday, Jerry Ballinger talked with KSN reporter Brittany Glas off camera. Ballinger said the views online are “one sided.” Ballinger told Glas there are a number of injustices in the case the public does not know about.
Ballinger denied receiving special treatment from Judge Ricke, but said he qualified for a border box finding, meaning he had no criminal history.
KSN asked Ballinger how many times he engaged in sexual relations with the 14-year-old female victim. He would not comment. He also said he is not a predator and the relations were not violent.
Ballinger said he regrets the choices that have led up to this point and just wants to move forward. He told KSN his actions were in a “lapse of judgment.”
Ballinger also mentioned that he suffers from a number of medical conditions, including “overwhelming stress” at the time of the criminal activity. He said the victim was “a deaf ear” in a time of need.
KSN reached out to the judge, prosecutor, and Augusta Police Chief for comment. The chief was unavailable.
Judge Ricke cannot yet comment because technically the sentencing will not be complete until April 21, pending a lifetime post release decision.
Ballinger has been sentenced to 59 months of house arrest followed by 5 years of probation. He is not to have any contact with the victim or any other children under 16 years of age. In addition, he must also register as a sex offender, enroll in a sex offender treatment program and pay for all of his victim’s therapy.
If he violates his probation he would go to prison for 34 months.