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Ex-YRTC resident to prison for punching female staffer

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KEARNEY — Punching a female employee at Kearney's Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center has a Lincoln man serving prison time.

Brendan Wubbels, 18, was sentenced in Buffalo County District Court to four to 12 years in prison for felony attempted first-degree assault on Aug. 22, 2021, after he was involved in a fight with another YRTC teen. Earlier he pleaded guilty to the charge.

Judge Ryan Carson gave him 331 days credit for time already served in jail.

Around 7:15 p.m. on Aug. 22, 2021, Wubbels and another teen got into a fight in a common area at YRTC. Several staff members intervened, and the female YRTC employee tried to hold Wubbels back when she was punched in the left side of her neck. Neither of the other two staff members saw Wubbels hit the woman.

Brendan Wubbels

Brendan Wubbels

The woman clenched her throat, fell to the floor unconscious and started seizing. Records show the woman gained consciousness and later walked to an ambulance, although she passed out again in the YRTC parking lot.

At the hospital, the woman spoke to an investigator in a whisper. She was later discharged with a cervical muscle strain.

Wubbels was 17 years old at the time of the incident, but he turned 18 in November. Three days after his birthday, records show his public defender, Brandon Dugan of Kearney, filed a motion asking the case be sent to juvenile court for prosecution because Wubbels was a minor at the time of the alleged offense.

In December, Judge Ryan Carson ruled the case would remain in district court because Wubbels had nearly exhausted the juvenile court system and its services.

Records show Wubbels was committed to YRTC for one year in December 2020 for third-degree assault. Wubbels has received several major violations for prior assaults on other youths and staff members at YRTC. There is also a pattern of violence and physical assaults in other placements before YRTC, records show.

Previous YRTC records indicate Wubbels was cited for “major violations” approximately eight times, excluding the Aug. 22 incident. Many of those events involved serious threats and acts of physical aggression toward other youths and staff members.

Records say one incident happened two weeks after Wubbels arrived on the YRTC campus. Wubbels allegedly punched another youth in the face and placed him in a choke hold until the youth became unresponsive. When staff tried to intervene, Wubbels refused to let go of the youth and allegedly threatened to kill the teen.

A YRTC therapist also testified before the Aug. 22 incident, Wubbels had shown progress in his therapy, actively participated in therapy, learned coping skills, demonstrated fewer assaultive-type behaviors and become a role model. Other witnesses testified Wubbels could succeed if transferred back to YRTC, but many services offered at the facility would expire when he turned 18.

Before arriving at YRTC, records indicate Wubbels received several services in the juvenile court system, including outpatient services, individual therapy, psychiatric services, foster home placements and other interventions.

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