After his second conviction for molesting girls younger than 10, a Montana man could face chemical castration and a 50-year prison sentence.
Thomas Nichols, 26, was originally convicted of raping a 9-year-old girl in 2010, according to Montana's Daily Interlake. The jury found him guilty after hearing testimony that he sexually assaulted the victim in her home while her family was in the next room. Nichols allegedly offered his victim $10 if she would let him continue molesting her; she refused.
Nichols was sentenced to 40 years in state prison, but in 2014, Montana's Supreme Court overturned the conviction. His attorneys had successfully argued on appeal that when prosecutors questioned Nichols about his sexual habits in front of the jury, it was unfairly prejudicial and a likely factor in his conviction, the Associated Press reported.
Prosecutors filed an amended charge of felony criminal endangerment, and Nichols pleaded no contest. The deal allowed prosecutors to score a conviction, but Nichols was released after his 10-year prison sentence was suspended.
On Dec. 2, 2015, less than a year after he was released, Nichols was accused of sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl, according to Montana's Flathead Beacon.
During a May 19 hearing, Nichols offered an apology but did not explicitly admit wrongdoing, according to the Daily Interlake.
"I just want to apologize to everyone involved," Nichols said, shrugging. "Sorry."
Seemingly impatient with the court proceedings, the twice-convicted child molester turned to the judge.
"I was just asking if there is anything you could do to speed this up," Nichols said.
District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht told Nichols it would take at least 90 days for a sexual offender evaluation to be completed. Depending on the results of that evaluation, Nichols could be chemically castrated.
Nichols also faces up to 50 years in prison and could be hit with the additional 10-year prison sentence that was suspended when the state's Supreme Court vacated his earlier conviction.