COLUMBUS -- A 29-year-old St. Edward man accused of sexually molesting his 9-year-old niece multiple times in 2011-12 has been declared mentally incompetent to stand trial.
Platte County District Judge Robert Steinke ruled the St. Edward man, who is not being named to protect the identity of the victim, mentally incompetent after considering the results of the defendant's court-ordered psychiatric evaluation.
The evaluation by Drs. Scott Moore and Klaus Hartmann of the Lincoln Regional Center found the defendant developmentally disabled. Additionally, the evaluation found there was not a "substantial probability" the defendant will become competent within the foreseeable future.
Chief Deputy Platte County Attorney Demi Herman said the county would begin a civil commitment proceeding to hold the defendant indefinitely by the end of the week.
Steinke's ruling gave the prosecution until Friday to make a choice -- start a civil commitment procedure as required by state law to commit a person for an indefinite period or release the defendant.
Herman said the defendant's developmental disability makes it inappropriate to send him to jail, but that he does pose a danger to the public.
The St. Edward man was been charged with first-degree sexual assault of a child, a Class 1B felony punishable by a maximum of life imprisonment and a minimum of 20 years in prison.
The defendant was accused of assaulting the victim, who was 8 years old at the time of the offenses, multiple times from October 2011 to February 2012.
The victim and her three siblings were removed from the family home more than a year ago in an unrelated juvenile court action. The defendant is the brother of the victim’s mother.
Court documents in the case described sexual assault allegations that came to light while the victim had been in foster care during the past year.
The victim reported sexual contact that had taken place in a mobile home on the northeast side of rural Columbus, according to an arrest affidavit filed by Nebraska State Patrol Investigator Brad Higgins.