COLUMBUS — A 43-year-old area man convicted of attempted sexual assault of his 14-year-old stepdaughter was sentenced Friday to up to 10 years in prison during a hearing in Platte County District Court.
The man, who is not being named to protect the identity of the victim, pleaded no contest to the assault charge earlier this summer. He was accused of sexually assaulting the teen dozens of times in the family home dating back to 2009.
The defendant’s sentencing was previously delayed for a couple of months to allow him to continue treatment for cancer at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and Mayo Clinic.
Judge Robert Steinke said Friday he was sentencing the area man to one to 10 years in prison to balance the “complex and possibly life-threatening nature” of his illness with the “emotional and psychological” damage suffered by the young victim.
The judge said he set the minimum sentence low to allow parole authorities to consider the defendant for medical parole and set the maximum penalty high to recognize the seriousness of the crime.
“I want to strike a balance,” Steinke said.
The defendant, who had been free on bond since mid-December while awaiting sentencing, was led from the courtroom in handcuffs.
Attempted sexual assault is a Class 2A felony, punishable by up to 20 years in prison.
The man was initially charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, a Class 1B felony that carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
In exchange for the defendant’s plea, the county attorney’s office dismissed a charge of incest.
Court records describe a Platte County Sheriff’s Office investigation that began when the victim called the Nebraska Child Abuse Hotline to report that her stepfather had been having sex with her for several years.
Investigator Joseph Gragert wrote in his probable cause arrest statement that the victim reported the most recent sexual assault occurred in November 2016.