COLUMBUS – A district judge said a 54-year-old Columbus man inflicted “grave” damage on his developmentally impaired stepdaughter while sexually assaulting her over a period of several weeks last spring.

Platte County Judge Robert Steinke sentenced the city man, who is not being identified to protect the identity of the 28-year-old victim, to the maximum of three years in prison his conviction of sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult.

“You took advantage of the victim’s disability to the point where she eventually ran away from home,” said Steinke, who also sentencing the defendant to 12 months of post-release supervision.

The sexual abuse charge is a Class 3A felony, punishable by up to three years imprisonment, 18 months post-release supervision and a $10,000 fine. In exchange for his plea, the prosecution dismissed four other similar sexual abuse counts.

The city was initially charged with Class 2 and 2A felonies that carried penalties of up to 50 and 20 years, respectively.

“Your’re not a candidate for probation,” Steinke told the defendant. “You greatly benefited by the terms of the plea agreement.”

Steinke said the defendant, who has in custody in the county jail since his arrest last spring, used his position in the family home to take sexual advantage of the victim that will be the source of “emotional” pain for years to come.

Before sentencing, Deputy County Attorney Elizabeth Lay told the judge the defendant was an authority figure in the home who gained the victim’s trust and “groomed” her for sexual favors.

The defendant has shown no remorse for the damage he has caused, Lay said while imploring the judge to impose the maximum sentence allowable for the sexual abuse offense.

A Columbus Police investigation began in early May with a report that the victim, who is developmentally delayed with a diminished mental capacity, had run away from the family home, which she shared with her adoptive mother and her husband.

Investigator Jaymee Levander wrote in her probable arrest statement that the defendant “admitted” to the sexual contact but denied penile penetration. The victim was unable to give her address or phone number when officers found and questioned her, authorities reported.



Jim Osborn is a news reporter at The Columbus Telegram.

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