August 19, 2005
Honorable John R. Stegner
Latah County Courthouse
P.O. Box 8068
Moscow, Idaho 83843
Dear Judge Stegner:
I have been asked to provide a letter on behalf of Steven Sitler, which I am happy to do. I have known Steven since he first came to New St. Andrews College, where I teach. During his time in Moscow, he was also attending the church where I am a minister. When his criminal conduct first became known, I was involved in providing counsel to the family of the victims, encouraging them in their decision to take it to the authorities. And in the aftermath of this tragedy, I have also been involved in providing counsel to Steven and his family. I have worked with the pastor of his home church as well, as we have coordinated how best to help Steven.
Steven lives in Colville, Washington, which is about a three-hour drive from Moscow, but since this situation has come out Steven has come down to see me about half a dozen times. Not only have I provided counsel for him, but have also given him a number of assignments to complete during the time between our sessions. He has been faithful and diligent in seeking to do what I have asked, and I have good reason to believe that he has been very eager in this. It is important to note that I have not offered him any spiritual panacea or “quick fix,” and I believe Steven understands the importance of his need to resist these temptations over the long haul. The assignments I have given him have included the reading of books on everything from the obvious issues of sex and sexuality, to the underlying issues of his discontent. In all this, Steven has been most responsive, and has been completely honest with me.
When we first began, I can honestly say that Steven did not know the real nature of his problem. He was certainly aware of the magnitude of it, and was aware of the legal consequences, but I don’t believe he had a good grasp of why he had felt compelled to act in the way he had acted. But in our sessions, he was completely open and honest with me, confessing aspects of his private behavior and thought life that I would have had no other way of ascertaining.
I am grateful Steven was caught, and am grateful he has been brought to account for these actions so early in his life. I am grateful that he will be sentenced for his behavior, and that there will be hard consequences for him in real time. At the same time, I would urge that the civil penalties applied would be measured and limited. I have a good hope that Steven has genuinely repented, and that he will continue to deal with this to become a productive and contributing member of society.