A married South Dakota state Senate Hopeful was charged with felony child abuse allowing allegations that he groomed, molested and raped a female family member.  

Joel Koskan, 44, a Republican running for state Senate for the third time, was arrested on Thursday following an investigation from the State Attorney General’s Office, the Mitchell Republic reports. 

He was accused of grooming the child by kissing her, giving her long hugs and having her sit on his lap, making her believe there was nothing wrong with his behavior. 

‘[The woman] thought that it was ‘normal things’ that families were supposed to do,’ the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation wrote in its investigation after the victim, now 19, reported Koskan. 

She told investigators Koskan installed camera in her bedroom when she was 14 to watch her on his phone and began molesting and raping her when she was 17, which took place ‘many times’ and in different residence across the state. 

According to text messages from the victim, Koskan appeared to be tracking her movement when she reached out to investigators on May 6. 

‘You promised you’d 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 South Dakota state Senate, was accused of grooming, molesting and raping, a female family member

Joel Koskan (above), 44, a Republican running for South Dakota state Senate, was accused of grooming, molesting and raping, a female family member

Koskan, pictured with wife Sally, allegedly began grooming the victim when she was 12, and was accused of raping her multiple times when she turned 17

Koskan, pictured with wife Sally, allegedly began grooming the victim when she was 12, and was accused of raping her multiple times when she turned 17 

According to the criminal complaint against Koskan, the victim was 14 when she realized something was wrong while attending a religious summer camp. 

She said counselors warned children that they could suffer sexual abuse at the hands of adults, which made the victim realize that what Koskan was doing to her was wrong. 

After speaking to her counselors, they contacted the Department of Social Services, but the case was ultimately dropped when the victim refused to cooperate. 

She told state investigators in May that she feared speaking out back then because she suffered abandonment issues and feared she would be displaced from her family if she spoke out. 

The victim said she was chastised by her family for reporting Koskan, and said that while the molestation 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, she was told she was being ‘disrespectful to the family’ and required to apologize and sit near him. 

The complaint also states that Koskan put cameras in her room to watch her change, forcing the victim to hide in the closet, and that he ‘would make her not wear a bra as she got older.’  

Koskan faces multiple counts of rape, sexual contact with a child under the age of 16 and aggravated incest-related child abuse charges. 

He could face up to 10 years in prison and fines up to $20,000.  

Since news of the allegation broke out, he was deleted his Twitter account and made his campaign website private. 

The South Dakota Democratic Party has since called on him to immediately end his campaign. 

‘These allegations concerning Joel Koskan are deeply disturbing, and he should immediately end his campaign,’ state Democratic Party chairman Randy Seiler said in a statement. 

‘While he will still appear on the ballot, the choice for the voters of District 26 couldn’t be clearer. Partisan politics aside, Joel Koskan should not be voting in the legislature on issues that affect South Dakota kids — or any issues at all.’ 

This is a developing story. 



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