KOHL GOING TO PRISON
Wednesday, April 16th, 2008 -- 9:04 am
Posted by Riley Hebert-News Director
A rural Granton man could spend the rest of his life behind bars after he was convicted of sexually assaulting twin neighbor girls over ten years ago.
Clark County Circuit Court Judge Jon Counsel sentenced Stephen Kohl, 59, to at least 14 years behind bars Tuesday, but he could serve a much longer term.
In January, a jury convicted Kohl of inappropriately touching two 8-year-old neighbor girls while they visited his children back in 1996.
The victims, who are now out of high school, gave statements to the Court.
"I think of myself as a damaged person," said one victim, "Nobody's going to want to marry me because I'm damaged."
"I feel like I'm a damaged person because of what he did to me," she said.
But, reading from a prepared statement, Kohl again claimed he was innocent of the charges. He said his admission to authorities was the result of his Catholic upbringing.
"We were taught, my sister and I, first by my parents and then by Sisters of St. Mary's and then priests and nuns at Catholic High to treat people with respect," Kohl said, "Screaming and hollering at someone will get you nowhere."
Kohl, who skipped out on his original trial in June and remained on the lam throughout the summer, said he ran because he didn't trust his previous lawyer.
And he noted he and his wife had an honest relationship.
"Deb and I have been married almost nineteen years," he said, becoming emotional, "We have no secrets from one another. She has known all along what happened and what didn't happen."
"I could be sixty seconds from death with my hand on the Bible and be asked if I did what I'm accused of and honestly say 'no' with no worry about meeting the Lord," Kohl claimed.
"We can live with ourselves…it will be hard, but we will make it somehow. I just wonder if everyone else will be able to live with themselves."
But Judge Counsel said to believe Kohl, you'd have to believe in an "vast conspiracy", which included past victims coming forward for no apparent reason.
"To put it bluntly: the Court simply does not believe him. It stretches all credibility," Counsel said, adding he was taken aback by Kohl's behavior. "His denial and lack of remorse that, perhaps, reflects someone that is truly evil."
"There are very few people the Court sees that are truly evil."
Kohl received consecutive 20 years terms on two of the four charges of sexual assault of a child.
As the crimes took place before Wisconsin's Truth in Sentencing law took effect, Kohl will be eligible for parole in 10 years, but his mandatory release date will be over 30 years away.
He was also sentenced to another 3 year prison term for bail jumping, a charge that stemmed from Kohl skipping out his original June trial and remaining on the lam most of the summer.
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