Justice for a victim

'Also, to protect other kids out there'


TORRINGTON – As Torrington resident, Kenneth Fink (68), exited the Goshen County Courthouse Tuesday morning to begin a sentence of no less than 10 years and no more than 18, a ripple effect of local lives had been forever altered.

As part of a plea agreement with the State of Wyoming, Fink chose to plead guilty to sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree; most likely to avoid the maximum state penalty of 20 years.

There would be no probation, no community service, no counseling. For this particular case, the 68-year-old longtime resident of Torrington slowly walked out of the courtroom knowing with all realities considered, he would most likely die in prison where there could never be another helpless victim.

Until then, his new home would be a small concrete room with a heavy immovable door which can only be unlocked by the press of a button.

As with most sexual predators, Fink most certainly did not fit the stereotypical image. He did not at first glance appear to be a filthy, perverted danger to the most vulnerable and innocent of society: our children.

Quite the contrary and as with most guilty predators, Fink knew his victim and knew them very well. A close family friend who for years earned the love, trust, and respect of his victim and their family. All knowing fully what the end intention was, and seizing the opportunity to do nothing but violate when the victim was at their most vulnerable.

“When Kenny got out of jail, I was worried he would come and get me because I told officer Herb [Irons] what happened,” the victim said via impact statement. “I didn’t feel safe anymore. But with many talks with my family, I knew he wouldn’t come near me because my Papa said he would beat him up and make sure he wouldn’t leave here without medical attention.”

“I think Kenny needs to go back to jail and stay there till he dies,” the victim continued. “Because this past year was nothing but hurt and pain for me. Also, to protect other kids out there.”

Powerful words from an 11-year-old child. 

Powerful words from anyone who has ever been victimized. It would seem realistically devastating in order for so many innocent children to be protected from evil, one child along with their family has to suffer permanently.

The last statement however perhaps could be considered the most powerful. “To protect other kids out there.”

According to Goshen County and Prosecuting Attorney, Eric Boyer, the sentence is more than fair when it comes to justice for a suffering family, and is a stern warning for potential would-be predators.

In addition, Boyer believes the sincere and direct impact statements provided by the family of the victim were perhaps a decisive influence on the guilty defendant’s lengthy sentence.

“All of the victim impact statements were the most thorough, and helpful I had ever seen in any case I have ever dealt with,” Boyer said. “The defense attorney asked his client to simply be put on probation. I think largely it was the impact of those statements I believe largely drove the court to sentence Fink to 10-18 years, which was also heavy prison time recommendation from myself, the state, and the Department of Probation and Parole. Personally, I give all the credit to the family and their impact statements.”

When asked if the 10–18-year sentence was satisfactory for the state, Boyer replied adamantly, “Very much so. The judge specifically commented as he’s required, the purpose for sentencing includes both punishment and retribution, while discouraging others and raising public awareness from committing the same kind of offense.”

For an attorney who has vehemently built a career not so much on putting the guilty in prison as becoming a voice for victims, while also showing mercy and compassion to individuals who have made merely a horrible decision; Boyer strongly believes predators such as Fink must be punished to the full extent of Wyoming law.

“I want the community to know we can and will take these types of allegations seriously, both to protect people and punish the guilty as appropriate,” Boyer continued.

The state prosecuting attorney noted further the importance of responsible community support for one another when it comes to violence, harassment, or sexual assault of any kind.

As Boyer explained further in order to bring justice to victims and their families, it takes everyone working together and bravely addressing issues that otherwise may virtually go unnoticed.

It should be duly noted a prior victim of Fink’s from long ago had come forward in hopes of helping with the state’s prosecution, hoping the assistance would not only bring some closure to themselves, but also to protect other kids out there.

As Boyer himself stated, community members have a civic responsibility to protect our children and each other from further victimizations such as this.

“I strongly encourage everyone in the community to consider formally reporting any concerns they have about any potential situation involving injury to a child or even adult on the chance action has to be taken,” Boyer said. “It’s better to try and be proactive for all of us as a community than assume someone else will deal with it. It’s not appropriate, nor the problem of just one individual to take that on. It takes a community, and it takes a village to stop these types of offenses.”

While Boyer has received approval from the family of the victim for the final results of the case, the prosecuting attorney humbly replied with a quiet sincerity.

“I just try to do my job as I’m paid to do. The family however did a fantastic job of advocating for and protecting their own family member. I greatly appreciate their assistance.” 

While Boyer calmly left his office Friday afternoon with longtime canine companion, Bull, one could not help but think of the words spoken by both the prosecutor and the victim.

To protect other kids out there.

Although this wasn’t the first case to come across his desk, Boyer understands sadly it probably won’t be the last.

As he has mentioned over and over again in the past, everyone is capable of making mistakes, and everyone is just human. Nobody at the end of the day is ever going to be perfect.

Vile acts upon children, or even the elderly is something entirely different, however. We as human beings should know better on how to treat them, and why they should always have our protection.

When it comes to a dangerous predator willing to prey upon the weak and defenseless, we can’t help but remember what both the child and prosecutor were alluding to.

It takes all of us working together to stop them. Not with more harassment and violence, but forcing them to face justice by the full extent of the law. That can only be done if we are looking out for one another, and not staying quiet.