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Fahey pleads guilty to kidnapping, rape of 14-year-old girl from Fairfax

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Fahey pleads guilty to kidnapping, rape of 14-year-old girl from Fairfax
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

OLIVIA -- Matthew Thomas Fahey, 25, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the abduction and sexual assault of a 14-year-old girl during what was to have been the start of his trial on the charges in District Court in Olivia.


Now, he is awaiting rulings by the court that could add 10 or more years to the sentence he receives for the May 4 assault on the Fairfax newspaper carrier. Testimony provided by the girl on Tuesday will be considered as District Judge Randal Slieter decides whether there were aggravating factors and heinous elements to the crimes. Fahey is likely to receive a minimum of 14 years in prison for the offenses to which he pleaded. If aggravating factors or heinous elements are found to exist, he faces the possibility of serving 15 to 25 years before being eligible for release.

He could serve many more years, according to statements made during closing arguments by Fahey's defense attorney, Joseph Parise.

Fahey entered his guilty pleas to charges of kidnapping, criminal sexual predatory conduct, and criminal sexual conduct - first-degree causing injury or by force or coercion. A charge of criminal sexual conduct - first-degree penetration or causing fear of great bodily harm was dismissed.

The judge will rule within 90 days on whether aggravating factors and/or heinous elements were present. A sentencing date will be set following that ruling. Fahey remains in custody.

The girl, now 15, testified Tuesday about her abduction and how she resisted Fahey throughout the ordeal, despite his threats and the fact that he is much taller and heavier than her. At over 6 feet -- and more than 200 pounds -- he is a full one foot taller and about 100 pounds heavier than the girl.

Her vulnerability, the size and age disparity, and threats against her during the crime should be considered aggravating factors, according to prosecutor Glen Jacobsen, Renville County assistant attorney.

But the issue that would lead to the longest sentence is whether there were "heinous elements." Closing statements on that issue focused on whether the girl had escaped or had been released by Fahey, and whether the location was safe.

Fahey was living in Marshall at the time of his arrest but he is originally from Fairfax.

Fahey, who takes medications for a bipolar disorder, was smoking a drug from a pop can during the offense, according to testimony. He testified that he had abducted the girl in Fairfax as she did her paper route, threatened her, told her he had a gun, and at one point warned her he would harm her sister if she did not cooperate. The girl did not know him.

But Fahey also testified that he had released the girl from the front seat of his car not far from the Mount Hope Cemetery in Brown County where the rape had occurred before 8 a.m. Defense attorney Parise told the court that his client had signaled his intentions to release the girl earlier in the ordeal by telling her how she should deceive law officers by saying her abductor was a black man.

Fahey also testified that he had told the girl where he was going to place her cell phone, and had set it down in three pieces -- a battery, the back cover and main body -- along the road where he had said he would.

The girl -- with her mother sitting at her side -- testified that she had slipped into the back seat of Fahey's car and escaped by opening the door and jumping as he was driving on a gravel road. She said Fahey sped the car up as she popped open the door. She said she lay motionless on the ground and watched him drive a distance, get out and toss the cell phone into a field. She said she found its pieces together in a "clump" and called home for help.

Parise told the judge in closing arguments that the girl's resistance has been her "badge of courage" and that she has wedded herself to this version of the release. Pointing out that she had no apparent injuries from exiting a moving vehicle and what he called inconsistencies in her accounts to law officers, Parise said the version offered by Fahey "makes more sense."

Both Fahey and the girl gave similar accounts of other aspects of the abduction and assault. Fahey drove back to the girl and apologized for the assault before driving away, according to testimony from both.

The prosecutor pointed out that she was left in a rural location some 12 to 15 miles from her home, with a cell phone in pieces, and where no obvious help could be seen. "The obligation is on Mr. Fahey to see that she was released in a safe place. That was not done," Jacobsen said.

Tom Cherveny
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.
(320) 214-4335