South Ogden man ordered into mental health court for child kidnapping
OGDEN — A judge on Monday sentenced a South Ogden man to a suspended prison sentence for kidnapping a 10-year-old boy and ordered him to move out of Weber County and report to the Davis County mental health court.
Second District Judge Camille Neider admonished Ethan Swisher, 32, not to violate the terms of her sentence, which grew out of a plea bargain between prosecutors and Swisher’s attorney, with input from the boy’s parents.
“If you screw this up, there is no one to blame but you,” she told him.
On April 20, the boy’s father called police to report that a man tried to get his son to go with him. The man told the boy his parents had asked him to take him home, but the boy refused and ran from the man. A Burch Creek Elementary crossing guard saw the incident and identified Swisher.
Defense attorney Ryan Bushell said Davis County mental health court officials have agreed to take Swisher into their program, but the case must be transferred to the Farmington court first. Bushell said Swisher will be accepted into a sober living program, where he will get help for conditions including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and narcotics abuse.
Bushell asked Neider to sentence Swisher and release him from the Weber County Jail while the transfer is worked out. But prosecutor Patrick Tan of the Weber County Attorney’s Office objected, “until we know for sure he’s been accepted into the mental health court.”
The boy remains traumatized by the incident and the family fears Swisher will return to the neighborhood, Tan said. Swisher lived with his parents just a few houses away from the school. Tan read to the court a statement from the boy’s parents that said Swisher had been following the victim, his brother and other children.
Bushell said parents in the area “knew to keep their children away” from Swisher. He said Swisher was high on methamphetamine that day and also has been diagnosed with depression. Since he has been in jail, medications have helped greatly to normalize his behavior, Bushell said.
Neider told Swisher the boy’s parents “have been very compassionate, considering the circumstances.” She also credited Swisher’s parents for being determined to “find you a safe place to land and get you the help you need.”
In the plea bargain, Swisher pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree felony kidnapping. Neider sentenced him to one to 15 years in state prison and suspended the penalty, contingent upon him completing mental health court and complying with a 48-month probation.
She said her goal was to keep the victim safe and to keep Swisher safe from himself “and your demons.”
“One person will make or break this case, and that is you,” she told Swisher. “I will not hesitate to send you to prison to make sure (the victim) and other children are safe.”