Court gives sex offender custody of teenage stepdaughters

A convicted sex offender in Nebraska has won custody of two teenage stepdaughters — after the state’s highest court refused their father’s attempts to get his girls out of the perv’s house.

The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday ruled that the girls, who are 17 and 15, will remain in the custody of the sex offender — a man who was convicted of sexually assaulting another underage stepdaughter from a previous marriage.

The girls’ father has tried — and failed — several times to win back custody of his daughters.

After a district and appeals court ruled against him, the Supreme Court ultimately sided with the sex offender.

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“It’s a scary situation for anyone,” the father told the Omaha World-Herald.

“I can’t imagine any parent being comfortable with having their children in the same household with someone with that kind of background.”

The Daily News is withholding the names of those involved because of the nature of the case.

In its decision, the court acknowledged that the circumstances surrounding the sex offender’s previous crime “bears a strong resemblance to (his) current domestic setup.”

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But the court said the father failed to produce enough evidence that the convicted stepdaughter molester might molest his new stepdaughters.

The father “presented little evidence about the risk (the stepfather) allegedly poses,” the court wrote in its majority decision.

Meanwhile, the sex offender “had volunteered for extensive rehabilitation during his incarceration, even after he became ineligible for parole,” the court wrote.

“He had not been investigated for any sexual wrongdoing since his release. It had been over a decade since (his) offense. And further, (he has) expressed remorse and exhibited a highly positive response to treatment.”

According to court papers, the girls’ father and mother divorced in 2004. The mother won custody of the daughters, with the father earning regular visitations.

After the marriage ended, the mother started dating a different man — who was later convicted of sexually assaulting a third child of the woman.

In 2013, the father learned his ex-wife was with yet another sex offender — her current husband, who lives with the daughters and has “unsupervised access” to them, court docs say.

The stepfather was convicted in 2002 of sexually assaulting a previous stepdaughter. According to court papers, the victim said her stepfather had rubbed her breasts and genitals and digitally penetrated her over a two-year period. He was convicted of first-degree sexual assault and sexual assault of a child, and spent four years behind bars.

Three years after his release, he started dating his now-wife. His new wife eventually learned about his sickening crime, but told a therapist she “preferred to put the thought of (his) history of mind,” court papers say.

After moving in with the girls, the family established “precautions” for him — there was a “dress code” and a lock on the bathroom doors, and the girls had to change in private and adjust their “shower schedules.”

But the sex offender still had plenty of solo time with them, and even took each girl with him alone for hunting trips.

The girls’ father filed court papers to get them out of their new home, arguing that the sex offender’s history “creates a very strong presumption against custody,” court docs say.

But the state Supreme Court wrote there is “no such policy” stating outright that sex offenders cannot keep custody of kids.

The court’s decision heavily relied on testimony from the girls’ psychologist, who defended the sex offender’s parenting abilities. She said the daughters never reported any “grooming behaviors” from their stepfather.

But the therapist acknowledged that the girls reported “angry outbursts” from their stepfather — including an instance of him throwing a brick, and another of him punching a grain bin. The therapist also never met with the stepfather, and “testified that she had no basis to determine whether (he) had actually been rehabilitated.”

The therapist “related only her opinion,” court papers say, “based upon contact with (the mother) and the girls, that there was no risk to the girls.”

The court decision came with two dissents from local judges, one of whom wrote that the father is left “feeling helpless to protect his children.”

Tags:
nebraska
crimes against children

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