MADISON — A Norfolk woman convicted of conspiracy to commit delivery of prescription drugs — and sometimes using her children in the process — was sentenced to prison in district court here Wednesday.
Christine A. Theisen, 39, was also sentenced on a charge of child abuse in what was described as her daughters suffering “beyond belief.”
Deputy Madison County Attorney also Matthew Kiernan also said the details of Theisen’s case were horrific, and letters from her daughters caused him to be “alternately horrified, serious and just plain sad.”
Theisen had previously been found guilty on charges of conspiracy to deliver hydrocodone, conspiracy to deliver tramadol and for child abuse.
Initially, Theisen had also been charged with conspiracy to delivery oxycodone, tampering with evidence and two counts of commit child abuse negligently.
The charges were amended in exchange for Theisen’s guilty plea, and Kiernan said he would not be making a sentencing recommendation per the plea agreement.
However, he told the court the agreement wouldn’t keep him from making comments.
“What these girls suffered at the hands of their mother was beyond belief. They were subject to horrific abuse, she even burned them, and were treated as domestic servants,” Kiernan said.
He said letters from Theisen’s daughters detailed the abuse, as well as making the assertion that Theisen would “shed some tears,” but not to believe her.
“This is something no child should have to suffer — being betrayed by the one person in their life that’s supposed to protect them above all else,” Kiernan said.
Theisen’s attorney, Nate Stratton, said the two important questions to ask about what he described as a difficult case were, “What got us here, and how are things going to be different moving forward?”
He said his client was, “incredibly remorseful about betraying those she loves most in the world.”
“Truly, there is a national epidemic when it comes to prescription drugs. Ms. Theisen was prescribed, and it made her a totally different person, not who she wanted to be,” Stratton said.
While addiction is not meant to alleviate or excuse the charges, Stratton said it was a mitigating circumstance.
“Fortunately for this court and Ms. Theisen, she has had the last year to make significant strides,” Stratton said.
Theisen had remained clean for the last year, had graduated intensive outpatient treatment (IOP), is attending Narcotics Anonymous an Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, has a sponsor, is on track to graduate from an after-care program, has taken parenting classes and is dealing with the juvenile court system to mend relationships with her children “and is attempting to fix what she has done,” Stratton said.
Theisen is also involved in a juvenile court case and has regained custody of her youngest child, an infant when she was charged last August. She currently has unsupervised visits with her son, now 8 years old, and is working on getting visitation with her now 14-year-old daughter. Her oldest daughter is now 18.
“I believe she can improve herself and show she can be a productive member of society,” Stratton said.
He asked the court to consider a term of probation due to the progress Theisen has show as well as for her acknowledgment of responsibility and remorsefulness.
Theisen became emotional as she addressed the court.
“I know I can’t go back and change time, how my addiction affected my children. I didn’t realize that addiction made me a person that perhaps didn’t deserve their children. ... I have been sober almost a year now and off the painkillers, and I didn’t realize they made me a person that would do things that were unspeakable and unimaginable. ... I have remorse and shame and guilt for everything that’s taken place. Those things did happen, I admit that,” Theisen said.
Judge Mark Johnson spoke to Theisen before he sentenced her.
He began by saying that the numerous illegal sales of prescription drugs — coupled with involving her minor children in those sales — not only brought harm to society and the people who have addictions to those drugs, but caused lasting harm to her children.
“In the pre-sentence investigation (PSI), the police reports said ‘I have never seen anyone abused and made a slave like (the oldest daughter). If (she) wants to go somewhere, she has to clean the whole house, which is usually a horrible mess.’ And if the list of things was not completed, you would hit and kick (her) and call her every name in the book. ... You should feel terrible about your behavior,” Johnson said.
He said there were numerous instances outlined in the PSI where this behavior, and worse, was reported as common for Theisen.
“Quite frankly, I've never seen this type of behavior against children. I’ve been involved in the law for 36 years, and this behavior is monstrous. Quite frankly, I’m surprised you have your minor child back,” Johnson said.
He then sentenced Theisen to 8-18 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with no credit for time served. If Theisen loses none of her good time, she will become eligible for parole in four years and eligible for mandatory release in nine years.
Johnson also sentenced others on the following charges:
Driving under the influence
John J. Ellis, 50, 1208 W. Norfolk Ave., driving under the influence (refusal) — second offense, attempted obstructing a police officer, 24 months of probation, $1,000 fine, 30 days in jail with credit for one day served to commence Feb. 28, 2020, license revoked for five years.
Possession of methamphetamine
Kayla M. Clark, 25, 122 W. Braasch Ave., No. 3, 30 months of SSAS probation, 90 days in jail with credit for 13 days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, curfew from 11 p.m. to 6:30 a.m., costs.
Amber D. Bullock, 33, no address listed, possession of methamphetamine, attempted possession of a stolen firearm, four years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 161 days served, 30 months of post-release supervision, costs.
Dennis I. Wiese, 50, 1104 N. Ninth St., 24 months of probation, 90 days in jail with credit for three days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, costs.
Bethany Van Duzer, 34, 111 N. Ninth St., 24 months of SSAS probation, 90 days in jail with credit for 28 days served to be served prior to the end of probation unless waived, costs.
Stacey K. Pojar, 39, no address listed, one year in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 142 days served, costs waived.
Timothy Owens, 31, 504 N. Fourth St., Apt. 7, probation violation on prior charge of possession of cocaine, new charge of strangulation, probation revoked, 54 months in the Nebraska Department of Corrections with credit for 46 days served, 30 months of post-release supervision, costs.
Lane M. Himm, 35, Eagle, probation violation on prior charges of attempted second-degree assault, terroristic threats, new charge of disturbing the peace, probation continued with six months added, 30 days in jail unless fees paid by Sept. 3.