A master sergeant in the Air Force was sentenced Wednesday in Sarpy County District Court to six months in jail after pleading no contest to attempted first-degree sexual assault of a child.
Jason T. Gibson, 41, of La Vista, agreed to plead no contest to the felony in exchange for the charge being reduced to attempted assault.
Gibson, who faced up to 50 years in prison, also must serve five years of probation and register as a sex offender. The Air Force also will begin proceedings to remove him from the service.
Phil Kleine, a deputy prosecutor with the Sarpy County Attorney’s Office, told Judge Stephanie Martinez that a plea agreement was reached to spare a teenage girl from having to testify. The girl, now 16, is expected to testify against a co-defendant of Gibson’s, Klint Bitter of Omaha.
Bitter, 34, is a former pastor at Christ Community Church in Omaha. He is charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child. He posted 10 percent of $1 million bail and is awaiting trial.
Kleine said that Gibson and Bitter had contacted another co-defendant, DeArch Stubblefield, 19, of Bellevue, to set up a meeting with the now-16-year-old girl. Stubblefield has pleaded guilty to attempted human trafficking, attempted aiding and abetting first-degree sexual assault of a child and possession of child pornography. Prosecutors dropped an additional charge of child abuse. Stubblefield is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
At Wednesday’s hearing, Kleine said Gibson “has no one to blame but himself. He made the choice to contact (Stubblefield) and he made the choice to have sex and he made the choice to pay money.”
Kleine told the judge that Gibson responded to a Craigslist ad to set up a meeting with the girl in his home. He derided the defense’s contention that Gibson believed Stubblefield when he told him that the girl, then 15, was 18 years old.
“I have met with this girl, and she doesn’t weigh 100 pounds soaking wet,” Kleine said. “There is no way she doesn’t look like a kid.”
Gibson’s attorney, Donald Schense, asked the court to give his client probation. He noted that his client will go through life as a convicted felon and a registered sex offender and will be drummed out of the Air Force after 16 years of service.
“He never shifted blame and never blamed anyone else,” Schense said. “He is extremely embarrassed, ashamed and remorseful.”
In announcing her sentence, Martinez said it was an extremely difficult case for everyone involved.
“There’s nothing we can do,” the judge said, “to make this girl whole again.”