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Man sentenced to serve 25 years for November 2015 rape, beating

Jean-Michael Kisi is led out of the courtroom Thursday after being sentenced to spend 25 years in prison for gross sexual imposition and being an accomplice to attempted murder. Elizabeth Hackenburg/Williston Herald

WILLISTON, N.D.—A man who was convicted this summer of raping a woman in rural Williams County two years ago has been sentenced to serve 25 years in prison.

Jean-Michael Kisi appeared in Northwest District Court on Thursday, Oct. 12, where he apologized and asked for leniency.

"I'm not a terrible person, sir. I'm just a man who made a mistake," he told Judge Josh Rustad.

"I just hope that you find it in your heart to give me another chance."

Kisi, 22, insisted that he did not use violence against the woman, but admitted to the sexual assault, and said that he was sorry.

"The only way I could try to justify what I did is I was frustrated at the time and bad judgement came into play," he said.

Rustad sentenced him to 35 years in prison for gross sexual imposition, with 10 of those years suspended. Kisi must complete sex offender and anger management treatment while in prison, and register as a sex offender when he is released, along with serving 10 years of supervised probation.

A 20-year prison term for accomplice to attempted murder, along with sentences for driving under suspension and criminal mischief for damaging a kiosk in the Williams County jail will run concurrently with the longer sentence.

Rustad said his decision not to follow Williams County Assistant State's Attorney Nathan Madden's recommendation of a life sentence without parole was based on a hope that treatment will make a difference for Kisi.

"I think with these conditions, and with the amount of time you'll be sentenced to and with the treatment, there is a hope of rehabilitation," he said. "To a certain degree you've accepted some, but there's an awful lot of minimizing, there's an awful lot of blaming everyone else. You certainly have not accepted (full) responsibility."

The victim's mother called Kisi to account by holding up a photograph of her daughter as she addressed the court during the hearing.

"You look at this," the woman said. "You're a young man, and because I'm a mother, I have to tell you that I forgive you, but I will never forget what you did to my daughter that day. Because of you and David, she will never be the same."

After a five-day trial in June, Kisi was found guilty of gross sexual imposition and accomplice to attempted murder, and acquitted on charges of conspiracy to commit gross sexual imposition and conspiracy to commit murder.

Prosecutors said he and David Mbulu, who was convicted earlier this year in the assault, attacked a 24-year-old woman as the three were returning to Williston from a trip to Minot in November 2015. Angry over the woman's failure to pay for their hotel rooms, Kisi pulled the car over on a little-used dirt road near Epping. Mbulu beat her with a tire iron, authorities said, and Kisi raped her. Kisi got back behind the wheel and the two men drove off, leaving the woman wearing just a T-shirt in sub-freezing temperatures.

In September, Mbulu was sentenced to 30 years in prison and 10 years of supervised probation for conspiracy to commit gross sexual imposition, accomplice to gross sexual imposition, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted murder.

Kisi plans to file an appeal with the North Dakota Supreme Court, his attorney, Steven Mottinger, said.