MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Stanley Kowlessar, Jr., accused of breaking into his neighbor’s Palmetto Bay home more than two years ago and molesting a 9-year-old girl in her bedroom in the middle of the night, took a plea deal Wednesday that avoids him being a convicted sex offender.
Under the plea bargain, Kowlessar admitted to burglary with a battery and will serve a year in prison. He originally was charged with burglary and lewd and lascivious assault on a child, but the girl’s parents agreed to the plea agreement to spare their daughter the trauma of a trial. Kowlessar had been accused of molesting the girl through her pajamas in her bed.
The case made news in 2015, when CBS4 News revealed that Kowlessar had been given a place to live by Palmetto Bay Vice-Mayor John Dubois. Kowlessar’s father is a friend and political supporter of Dubois. Dubois allowed Kowlessar to stay in his Bayfront mansion, because he could not continue to live next door to his victim. Intense media attention forced Dubois to eventually find Kowlessar a different place to stay, even though the vice mayor continued to defend Kowlessar as being innocent.
In court Wednesday, the now 11-year-old victim spoke directly to her attacker.
“Every night I have to sleep with my mom,” the child said, saying she has been constantly fearful after being assaulted in her bedroom. “I will turn 12 years old in 16 days, and I’m still sleeping with my mom,” the girl said, weeping.
Judge Cristina Miranda praised the girl for her courage in speaking before a courtroom full of observers, including about half a dozen members of the group Bikers Against Child Abuse.
“I’m very proud of you giving a statement today,” Miranda told the child. “I know this doesn’t end anything,” the judge said, but assured the girl she will eventually be able to get through this time in her life.
The child’s mother told the court, “She was the victim,” pointing to her daughter. “That 9-year-old baby right there lives in fear,” the mother said, sobbing. The mother was also critical of Vice-Mayor Dubois for standing up for Kowlessar. Dubois, who has attended previous hearings, was not present for the plea deal.
The victim’s father said he will “never forgive my elected public official for taking sides with my daughter’s attacker.”
Kowlessar, a former marine, made no statement to the judge, his victim or her parents. Under the plea agreement, he will serve one year in state prison for burglary and battery. He will serve five years’ probation, during which he must undergo mandatory treatment for alcohol abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder that he blamed for his middle of the night criminal behavior.
The father refuted that in court.
“The defendant made these choices, not alcohol, not PTSD, it was the defendant who made these choices,” the father said.
As part of his five-year probation, Kowlessar must have no contact of any sort with the victim or her family. The judge extended the stay away order for the victim permanently – he may have no contact with her, ever.
More than two years after the burglary and assault, spent under house arrest with the exception of going to and from work and medical treatments, Kowlessar’s confinement was made iron-clad Wednesday. He was fingerprinted, handcuffed, and taken directly from the courtroom to the lockup to begin his prison term.
Vice-Mayor Dubois, who championed Kowlessar’s innocence and service as a Marine, did not reply to requests for comment from CBS4 News.