Courts • The man accused of groping a girl last month went to prison in girl's 1983 slaying.
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As a teenager in New Orleans, Christopher J. Rebstock had his prison sentence cut in half in the death of a 12-year-old neighbor girl because of a legal technicality, but his habits have landed him back in prison twice since then.
Despite a year of sex offender therapy at the Utah State Prison, Rebstock faces fresh accusations of sexually abusing a child after a woman says she saw him grope a young girl after a November performance at the Festival of Trees in Sandy.
Rebstock, 47, made his first appearance in 3rd District Court on Wednesday.
The registered sex offender is charged with one count of first-degree felony aggravated sexual abuse of a minor. The charge was enhanced because of Rebstock's 2001 conviction in Utah for attempted aggravated sexual abuse against a child.
Rebstock appeared Wednesday in court via video feed from prison, with his attorney, John W. Anderson, representing him in the Salt Lake City courtroom. A scheduling conference was set for Jan. 14.
The alleged groping occurred while Rebstock was still on parole for the 2001 offense in which he pleaded guilty to first-degree felony attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a child in connection with a September 2000 episode involving a 4-year-old boy in Salt Lake City. He was sentenced to three years to life in prison and placed on Utah's sex offender registry after his release on parole in March 2009.
Rebstock's first stint in prison came after he pleaded guilty to manslaughter in connection with the January 1982 strangulation death of Lara Deutsch.
Rebstock originally charged with murder at age 16 was sentenced in 1983 to 21 years in prison for the crime, but he was released in 1993 after spending just over 10 years in the prison, according to Corrections officials in Louisiana. His conviction on the lesser charge came after a confession he gave to police was ruled inadmissible in court because he was not read his Miranda rights before police interviewed him. That confession was used, however, in a civil suit Deutch's parents brought against Rebstock, which ended with a Louisiana state judge awarding the parents $761,000.
According to coverage of the civil trial in a 1983 edition of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Rebstock showed no emotion as he recalled strangling Deutsch in her front yard with a stick. Deutsch lived four houses down from Rebstock and was a friend of his little sister. He hid in the bushes in front of the Deutsches' home on the night of Jan. 10, 1982, waiting for Deutsch to return from playing with his sister."It was my intention to strangle her when I grabbed her around the neck with a stick," Rebstock was quoted as saying during the 1983 trial. According to the paper, Rebstock recalled that the girl struggled, pleaded for her life and on more than one occasion broke free, but he eventually dragged her to a nearby playhouse where he strangled her. He then went home, took a bubble bath and returned to console Deutch's parents, the paper reports. Once police targeted the 16-year-old as a suspect, he confessed, telling investigators he "didn't really mean to kill her," but that he resented Deutch's wealthy family and saw her as "spoiled."
"I guess I kind of envied that a little bit," Rebstock said in a taped confession quoted by the
Times-Picayune in 1983. "But she always, you know, talking about this, talked about that, had little arguments. I could see her have arguments with my little sister. And I, I didn't, you know, just didn't like her fighting and that."
While in prison in Utah for the 2001 sexual abuse conviction, Rebstock received a year of sex offender therapy, according to audio recordings of his parole hearings.
At his first parole hearing in April 2006, Rebstock is heard in the audio recording explaining to Cathy Crawford, Utah Board of Pardons and Parole hearing officer ,that he had not been able to get into the prison's sex offender-therapy program at that time but desired to do so.
"I do consider myself a sex offender," Rebstock said.
"Do you think you need treatment?" Crawford asked.
"I not only need it, I want it," he replied.
Rebstock had an October 2007 rehearing, where he said he had been in the sex offender therapy program for about two months. The parole board set another rehearing for August 2008.
At that hearing, Rebstock said he had been in therapy for 12 months and felt he was making progress in overcoming issues with labeling himself as a "sex offender" or "child molester." He acknowledged several of what he considered "risk factors" and also outlined an intervention strategy for when he was released.
"I am making every effort I can [to ensure] this never happens ever again," Rebstock said, " 'cause I'm tired of hurting inside, and … I'm tired of hurting the people around me that I care about because I don't have my life together. But I'm working on it, and I'm working on getting it back together."
Twitter: @KimballBennion, @jm_miller