South Dakota GOP Senate Hopeful Charged With Child Abuse After Allegedly Grooming, Raping Family Member
A Republican candidate for South Dakota’s state Senate was charged Thursday with one count of exposing a minor to a foreseeable harm. The Class 4 felony charge was lodged against Joel Koskan, 44, by Assistant Attorney General Mandy Miiller, following an extended investigation.
Court records indicate Koskan has been arrested and imprisoned. An initial hearing is scheduled to occur in a Mellette County courtroom November 7. Conviction carries a maximum term of 10 years in prison and fines no greater than $20,000.
The Mitchell Republic further reported:
According to a five-page probable cause document:
The investigation was spurred May 6, 2022, when a retired DCI agent contacted county and state investigators seeking assistance in a sexual assault investigation involving a 19-year-old woman who is related to Koskan. According to the retired agent, the woman disclosed that Koskan had been “raping her since she was a young child.”
The retired agent informed investigators that the woman said Koskan was monitoring her via GPS tracking systems in the woman’s phone and vehicle. He also owned the property she lived at, and could monitor it via a camera system.
After instructing the woman to go to the nearest sheriff’s office, authorities assisted her in finding a safe, private place to stay while the investigation began.
On May 11 — five days after investigators became aware of the allegations — the woman met with DCI agents in Watertown, where she explained the family dynamic.
“She explained that ever since she was young, Joel [Koskan] would give her very long hugs, kiss her and have her sit on his lap,” a DCI agent wrote in a probable cause statement filed with the courts. “[The woman] thought that it was ‘normal things’ that families were supposed to do.”
It wasn’t until she attended a faith-based summer camp at 14 years old that she became aware that the behavior was unusual. During the retreat, counselors spoke with the children about their idols and when physical contact can become inappropriate or sexual. That’s when “it clicked,” she told investigators.
After informing camp counselors that she believed Koskan “had a sexual interest” in her and that he “wanted to be with her intimately,” camp staff contacted the Department of Social Services, who dispatched a social worker to investigate the situation. However, she elected not to cooperate with the social worker, and no case was ever made.
Following the visit from the social worker, the woman told investigators that Koskan began limiting how often he touched her — but that only lasted for a couple of years.
As the woman grew older, she claims Koskan would “require” her to take showers and switch from wearing shorts to a nightgown without underwear. Court documents say Koskan would require her to straddle him after showering, exposing herself to him.
It wasn’t until she was 17 years old — roughly three years after the visit from DSS — that the woman claims Koskan penetrated her with fingers for the first time at his home in Wood, South Dakota. The woman said that touching led to sexual intercourse, which took place “many times” in different residences across the state.
On more than one occasion, the woman said Koskan would drive roughly 4 hours from Mellette County to Watertown after the two would fight on the phone. She said he would climb into bed with her and begin touching her, which would result in further intercourse. DCI agents said in court documents that contraception was rarely used.
Though the woman told investigators that she couldn’t recall the exact number of times the two had engaged sexually, it wasn’t until she started making friends her age in Watertown that she realized “how inappropriate the relationship with Joel [Koskan] really was.”
Beyond the sexual nature, the woman said Koskan controls her social media accounts in an effort to limit her connections with others. In addition to monitoring her whereabouts via GPS and camera systems, Koskan required nightly phone calls.
After sparking a relationship with her now-boyfriend, the woman claims Koskan’s wife told her that sexual activity was meant to be a “special event.” That comment led her to report Koskan’s behavior to the police.