Artz Granted Probation For His Convictions For Sexual Contact with Davis High Student

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Yolo-Count-Court-Room-600Judge Stephen Mock granted Michael Artz probation on Friday. However, he imposed very strict probation requirements and imposed a 270-day county jail sentence for after Mr. Artz completes his college finals. 

It has been, as Judge Stephen Mock reminded the court yesterday afternoon, been eight and one half months since Michael Artz was convicted of the two lesser counts in his case stemming from oral copulation with a 16-year-old female student, a year behind him at Davis High, and from his ill-advised attempts to reconnect with her nine months later.

It was a case in which Judge Mock acknowledged, several hearings before Friday, that he had had far more information about than most in which he imposes sentence.  Nevertheless, he was clearly torn as to what to do.

The District Attorney and Probation Department both recommended prison time.  The Probation Report read that it could not support probation.

Nevertheless, Judge Mock said that the critical question is whether Mr. Artz poses a danger to the victim and to others in the community.

Two weeks ago, both Deputy DA Steve Mount, who took over the case due to the maternity leave of original Deputy DA Tiffany Susz, and Defense Attorney Kathryn Druliner made their closing statements.

Mr. Mount had argued that Michael Artz is in fact two-faced, citing that his words and actions do not match.  He said the defendant knows right from wrong, but chooses the dark side when he believes people are not watching.  He said that he may be sweet when people are watching, but can he be trusted to resist his dark side when no one else is watching him?

He argued that Mr. Artz’ professed empathy was a sham, that he failed to articulate how it impacted the victim and that all he expressed was sorrow that he got caught and how it impacted his family.  That, Mr. Mount argued, was not the same as empathy for the victim.

On the question of whether Mr. Artz is dangerous, he argued that Mr. Artz is not stupid, but the victim is not now in danger (though he argued vehemently for a five-year-criminal protective order for the victim).

The real issue, he said, is whether he is a danger to women in the future.  What would he do when he has the advantage – will he take advantage of the situation when no one will know, will he act out on his rape fantasies like in the videos and websites he was said to enjoy and be aroused by?

Mr. Mount argued for prison and when he did not get that, he argued strict requirements for probation, plus a lengthy county jail term.

In response, Kathryn Druliner had spent a good deal of time talking about mitigating factors, including the victim’s affair with the female who was six months older than Mr. Artz, and had made allegations of Detective Jeff Beasley’s improprieties, both in terms of his interrogation of Mr. Artz  which violated his Miranda Rights, as well as his contact with the victim during the court trial.

Focusing on Mr. Artz, she argued that the DA asked for two psychological reports and both of them recommended probation. 

She argued that we all have temptations, and Mr. Artz has his, but she also argued he is pretty good at facing these problems and articulating them.  She argued that what he needed was therapy and medication for depression, along with strict requirements in probation.  She does not consider Mr. Artz a danger to women in the community.

In addition to the probation report, Judge Mock had at his disposal two written reports by examining psychologists, both of whom recommended probation and both of whom considered Mr. Artz a low to moderate risk for future violence.

In his statement on his decision to impose sentence, he indicated that Dr. Soulier, one of the examining psychiatrists, had indicated that past behavior was a good indicator of the level of threat, and he noted that Mr. Artz did not have previous convictions nor did he have previous incidents that might be deemed as red flags, outside of the immediate case.

However, Judge Mock found it troubling that the two crimes for which Mr. Artz was convicted occurred nine months apart.  He argued this represented a pattern that negated the fact that he no previous convictions.

He was even more troubled that the defendant testified in the sentencing face that he was still a little aroused by violent sex websites.

He also expressed concerns made by the defendant and defense counsel during the sentencing hearing which suggested that somehow evidence was tainted, despite the fact that Mr. Artz basically admitted to the two crimes. 

Judge Mock argued that he knew the case well and he found no factual basis for any of the allegations.  He argued that these were efforts to either minimize the crime or deflect responsibility and he found this troubling when deciding whether to grant probation.

Ms. Druliner would likely have pointed out that those claims were made in reference to the main offense, which had an element of force, and of which Mr. Artz was acquitted.

Nevertheless, he argued that a grant of probation could be fashioned in such a way as to both deal with these concerns and protect women in the community.

Mr. Artz was ordered to turn himself into court on June 3.  He may have some options available to him for alternative sentencing for the jail term, which he can apply for in the interim.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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8 thoughts on “Artz Granted Probation For His Convictions For Sexual Contact with Davis High Student”

  1. Phil Coleman

    The title of this column seems misleading. If we can agree that 270 days in jail is the harsher of the two levels of punishment given, should not the title of this column be something to the effect that the defendant was sentenced to jail for the better part of a year?

  2. David M. Greenwald

    I debated that point in my own mind for awhile actually, but the grant of probation was the first thing that the Judge said and the county jail sentence was almost treated as an afterthought, so based on that I decided on the title that I did.

  3. Fight Against Injustice

    I think highlighting the probation in the title of this article is fine. There have been several articles about this case. Many bloggers were not happy that the DA’s office was looking for prison time based on:
    1. Artz was found innocent of the main charge of forced oral sex.
    2. The jurors that had been interviewed said that they were upset about finding Artz guilty for statutory rape because they felt it was high school kids having sex. But because of the age difference 18 to 16, they had to come in with a guilty verdict.
    3. The complainant was having also having relations with a girl six months older than Artz and no charges were filed against the girlfriend.

    Steve Mount’s pushing for prison time for a case where two high school kids had sex makes little sense. So I am glad that probation was the main sentence.

  4. E Roberts Musser

    [quote]However, Judge Mock found it troubling that the two crimes for which Mr. Artz was convicted occurred nine months apart. He argued this represented a pattern that negated the fact that he no previous convictions.

    He was even more troubled that the defendant testified in the sentencing face that he was still a little aroused by violent sex websites.

    He also expressed concerns made by the defendant and defense counsel during the sentencing hearing which suggested that somehow evidence was tainted, despite the fact that Mr. Artz basically admitted to the two crimes.
    [/quote]

    I find the judge’s ruling to be very thoughtful and struck the correct balance – in imposing the sentence he did. It makes it clear to Mr. Artz that Artz’s conduct was/is/will continue to be not acceptable in a civilized society. It also recognized the realities of a society that permits unfettered porn to be accessible by 18 year olds, including depictions of rape. My concern is this: will Mr. Artz get the message? I truly hope so, for everyone’s sake, including his.

    And I find the headline of this article was definitely slanted toward the defendant, and not telling “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”…

  5. David M. Greenwald

    You have to understand the process hear, Judge Mock went through this long lengthy explanation and then announced he was going to grant probation. He never mentioned jail. Both gave their views on what the terms should be. The last thing Mount said was he needs a year in county. The last thing Druliner asked in response was about the jail. It was only at that time that Judge Mock said he was getting county jail time but hadn’t determined how long. Based on that, i gave the headline, but put the jail sentence in the first paragraph which meant that people did not even have to open the article to see he got jail time. Based on my understanding the proceeding, I made that determination.

  6. David M. Greenwald

    “My concern is this: will Mr. Artz get the message?”

    I didn’t offer my opinion in the article which will be the new standard. I will offer these facts and you can draw your own conclusion:

    He has five years of probation
    He has a four year eight month suspended sentence hanging over his head
    He has to register as a sex offender
    He has to undergo group therapy
    He has to undergo counseling
    He may have anger management
    He has a jail term that he will either be confined to home or sit in county for nine months
    He underwent a very personal and I would think humiliating process on the stand over the course of the last nearly five months.

  7. E Roberts Musser

    To dmg: Only time will tell if Artz got the message… and I still have concerns for the victim, something not included in your list…

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