Feb 11, 2020 5:58 PM

Kan. man who ran away with young girl must register as sex offender

Posted Feb 11, 2020 5:58 PM
Michael Fitzgerald photo KBI offender registry
Michael Fitzgerald photo KBI offender registry

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A 48-year-old Kansas man who ran away with a 14-year-old girl who he had acted with in a play was sentenced Monday to nearly 10 years in jail for sexually assaulting her.

Michael Fitzgerald, 48, Topeka, was sentenced to nine years and 10 months for six felonies arising from the girl's disappearance in January 2019. He will also have to register as a sex offender.

Fitzgerald met the girl when she was 11, and they later performed in “Elf: The Musical” in 2018 at the Topeka Civic Theater. She was reported missing Jan. 22, 2019. They were found two days later at a hotel in Cortez, Colorado.

He pleaded guilty Dec. 6 to electronic solicitation of a child, indecent liberties with a child, indecent solicitation of a child, aggravated interference with parental custody, contributing to a child's misconduct, and aggravated indecent liberties with a child.

The girl's private school has expelled her but she told KSNT she hopes to start “a whole new book” in life now that Fitzgerald is behind bars.

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Feb 11, 2020 5:58 PM
Ex-Kan. prison lab instructor wants sex crime conviction thrown out
Tomas Co photo Texas County

TOPEKA, KAN. (AP) — A former prison dental instructor who was found guilty earlier this month of one count of unlawful sexual relations with an inmate is asking a judge to throw out the conviction.

Tomas Co was convicted on one charge and found not guilty of five other charges alleging he abused female inmates working in the dental lab at the Topeka Correctional Facility.

The conviction was for a woman who said Co touched the inside of her knee and thigh.

In a motion filed Friday, Co's attorney, Chris Joseph, argued that type of touching doesn’t constitute “lewd” touching under state law. The motion also asks Shawnee County District Court Judge Cheryl Rios to acquit Co based on insufficient evidence, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Joseph said he also plans to seek probation for Co, rather than the 31 to 136 months of prison time he is facing.

District Attorney Mike Kagay said his office would file arguments in response to the defense motion.

Inmates in the dental lab complained for five years about alleged sexual harassment and unwanted touching by Co, who was dismissed in December 2018.