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Okabena man pleads guilty to probation violation

WORTHINGTON -- An Okabena man convicted a year ago of third- and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct made a court appearance Tuesday on a probation violation that occurred while he was in jail.

Mark Bernard Silvrants, 46, pleaded guilty to drinking alcohol while on work release.

Before the judge arrived and the hearing began, Silvrants told his attorney Kevin Green he didn't have an alcohol problem and had merely made a "simple mistake" and shouldn't be punished for it. In an angry tone, he told his attorney to "ask anyone who knows him." Green wisely hustled Silvrants out of the courtroom and into a private conference room.

Silvrants was more subdued when he returned, and admitted upon being questioned by the judge that he had a few sips of beer after work before returning to jail.

Jail staff noticed the smell of alcohol on Silvrants and tested him, discovering a blood alcohol concentration of .019. Because of the violation, all of his jail privileges were taken away, including work release. He was released on schedule after finishing his sentence.

Nobles County Attorney Gordon Moore said he was not looking for any additional jail time with the violation, but wanted Silvrants to undergo a chemical dependency evaluation.

"If Mr. Silvrants was unable to comply with the conditions while he was incarcerated, I have a lot of concern about his ability to comply with conditions out of jail," Moore told Judge Timothy Connell.

Green agreed his client should undergo the evaluation, but shared Silvrants' concern with Connell regarding his inability to pay for the process.

"He has been out of work because of the violation," Green explained. "He lives at home now, but doesn't know how he will pay for the assessment."

Green asked if Silvrants could be considered for Rule 25, a Minnesota assessment process and that would allow his home county, Jackson, to pay for the assessment. Silvrants would have to meet certain criteria to get financial assistance.

"If money is available, that is fine with me," Connell stated, then looked at Silvrants. "If not, you had better find the money."

Connell told Silvrants he found the man's actions incredible, given the 60 month prison sentence hanging over his head. Silvrants was sentenced in April to 60 months in prison, and all but a year was stayed as long as Silvrants follow certain conditions. Those conditions include attending a sex offender program, counseling, no possession or use of alcohol or drugs, no contact with vulnerable adults or females under the age of 18 and no possession of pornographic or sexually explicit material.

Silvrants was charged in February 2009 with several counts of criminal sexual conduct after allegedly engaging in sexual acts with a 16-year-old girl with mental impairments mentored by him and his wife. The victim's parents said it was the Silvrants' idea to mentor the girl.

When questioned, Silvrants initially denied any sexual contact, but later admitted he had touched the teen. He denied some of her allegations, saying the girl had been known to lie, and said the sexually suggestive text messages he sent her "weren't meant for anything" and that he sent the messages to see how the girl would react.

Silvrants was charged in both Nobles and Jackson Counties because the contact took place in both.