TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A Topeka man will spend more than nine years behind bars for running away with and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old he acted with in a theater play.
Shawnee County District Court Judge William Ossmann sentenced Michael Fitzgerald, 48, of Topeka, to nine years and 10 months Monday after being found guilty of sexually assaulting a minor in a Colorado hotel room in January 2019.
The victim’s mother said in court she had every reason to think she could trust Fitzgerald, and that he took advantage of their family. The then 44-year-old met the victim when she was 11, and they later performed in a 2018 Topeka Civic Theater play together. Friends of the victim said they observed an inappropriate relationship between the two before she went missing Jan. 22, 2019.
The FBI and Colorado police found Fitzgerald with the victim in a Cortez, Colorado hotel Jan. 24, 2019 and extradited both back to Kansas for him to face charges.
Fitzgerald’s consecutive counts break down as follows:
- 59 months for electronic solicitation of a minor.
- 59 months for aggravated indecent liberties with a child.
Time Fitzgerald will serve concurrent to the above charges breaks down as:
- 32 months for indecent liberties with a child.
- 18 months for indecent solicitation.
- 12 months for aggravated interference with parental custody.
- Eight months for child misconduct.
Fitzgerald will also have to register as a sex offender.
Ossmann heard testimony from the victim, her family, Fitzgerald and his brother. The victim broke down as soon as Fitzgerald walked in the room. He had bought her a secret cellphone and the two shared handwritten notes, some of which too graphic to read aloud in court.
The victim’s private school has since kicked her out over the ordeal, but she told KSNT News she hopes she can start “a whole new book” in life now that Fitzgerald is behind bars.