A married South Dakota state Senate candidate has been charged with felony child abuse, allowing charges that he groomed, sexually assaulted and raped a woman in his family.
Joel Koskan, 44, a Republican running for state Senate for the third time, was arrested Thursday following an investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office, Mitchell Republic reports.
He was accused of grooming the girl by kissing her, giving her long hugs and sitting her on his lap, making her believe there was nothing wrong with his behaviour.
‘[The woman] thought they were ‘normal things’ that families were supposed to do,’ the South Dakota Criminal Investigation Division wrote in its investigation after the victim reported Koskan.
She told investigators that Koskan set up a camera in her bedroom when she was 14 to watch her on her phone and began molesting and raping her when she was 17, which happened “many times” and at different residences across the state.
According to the victim’s text messages, Koskan appeared to be tracking her movements when she contacted investigators on May 6.
“You promised you would never do this,” Koskan texted her. I’m begging you, you don’t want to do this.
Joel Koskan (above), 44, a Republican running for the South Dakota State Senate, was charged with grooming, sexually assaulting and raping a woman in his family.
Koskan, pictured with his wife Sally, allegedly began grooming the victim when she was 12 years old and was accused of raping her multiple times when she turned 17.
According to the criminal complaint against Koskan obtained by the Daily Mail, the victim was 14 years old when she realized something was wrong while attending a religious summer camp.
She said counselors warned children that they could be sexually abused by adults, which made the victim realize that what Koskan was doing to her was wrong.
After speaking with her counselors, they contacted the Department of Social Services, but the case was eventually dropped when the victim refused to cooperate.
She told state investigators in May that she was afraid to speak out at the time because she was dealing with abandonment issues and feared she would be displaced from her family.
The victim said her family reprimanded her for reporting Koskan, saying that although the sexual abuse stopped for two years, it resumed when she was 16.
She said other family members were aware of the situation, and when she tried to distance herself from Koskan, they told her she was being “disrespectful” and asked her to apologize and sit near him.
The complaint also states that Koskan placed cameras in her bedroom to watch her change, forcing the victim to hide in her closet and “causing her to stop wearing a bra as she got older.”
According to the victim’s statement, when she confronted Koskan’s wife, Sally, about the abuse, she said she was told to “just lock her bedroom door” to prevent Koskan from reaching her.
The victim added that Koskan monitored all of her social media accounts, blocked or unfollowed her male friends, and reprimanded her for going to college classes with mostly male classmates.
Koskan allegedly kept a camera in the victim’s room to see her changes. She said that when she first accused him of wrongdoing when she was 14, her family, including Sally (above with Koskan) berated her for trying to ruin her family.
Koskan faces multiple counts of rape, sexual contact with a child under the age of 16, and aggravated incest-related child abuse charges. She could face up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $20,000.
Koskan could not be immediately reached for comment.
Since news of the indictment broke, his Twitter account has been deleted and his campaign website has been made private.
Since then, the South Dakota Democratic Party has called on him to immediately end his campaign.
“These allegations about Joel Koskan are deeply disturbing and he should immediately end his campaign,” state Democratic Party Chairman Randy Seiler said in a statement.
‘While it will still appear on the ballot, the choice for District 26 voters couldn’t be clearer. Partisan politics aside, Joel Koskan shouldn’t vote in the legislature on issues affecting South Dakota children, or any other issue.’
South Dakota Republican Party Chairman Dan Lederman also condemned Koskan in response to his arrest.
“The charge against Joel Koskan is a very serious one and the South Dakota Republican Party unequivocally opposes child abuse in all its forms,” Lederman said. “The South Dakota Republican Party is confident that the justice system will work on the indictment.”