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A teenager who was taken into state custody last year after his frustrated father left him in the court where the boy’s sexual assault case was pending will be returning to a family member in Oregon next month.
Zachary Straw, 17, recently pleaded guilty in New London Superior Court to fourth-degree sexual assault and risk of injury to a minor.
According to court documents, he was 14 years old when he sexually assaulted a 5-year-old boy in Ledyard in 2011. He was arrested in December 2011 and was tried as an adult due to the seriousness of the charges.
On Monday, he received a fully suspended five-year prison sentence followed by five years of strict probation. He will be required to register as a sexual offender for 10 years and have no contact with minors. He is expected to move to Oregon next month to live with his aunt, according to court testimony.
In February 2013, his father, Air Force Capt. Jason L. Straw, escorted him into court and asked the judge to take the teen into custody. In phone interviews later, the father said he had run out of options and that his son needed inpatient treatment.
The teen’s attorney, Peter D. Catania, called the state Department of Children and Families, which obtained an Order of Temporary Custody. Straw was taken to a shelter in Stratford and eventually transferred to the Boys & Girls Village in Milford, a home for children with psychiatric and behavioral problems.
Straw, flanked by Catania, guardian ad litem Lori Hellum and his social worker from DCF, stood before Judge Hillary B. Strackbein for sentencing Monday. All three adults said Straw had done well in treatment.
“It’s been a very long road,” said prosecutor Theresa Anne Ferryman. She said DCF had done a thorough job of finding a placement for Straw and that the victim’s family has been supportive of his receiving treatment.
“I’m just thankful that I’m going to move forward,” Straw told the judge.
The judge imposed the sentence but delayed its implementation until details of the Oregon move can be worked out with probation officials.