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May 08, 2012 | 04:51 PMELKHORN — A sex offender who has abused young girls from Texas to Walworth County will spend the rest of his life in prison.
On Friday, a Walworth County jury found Chris E. DeMint, 60, guilty of two counts of repeated sexual assault of a child. In this case, his victims were 3 and 5 when the assaults began in 2008. The two girls were assaulted for about two years until police arrested DeMint in 2010.
DeMint, of Bloomfield, pleaded not guilty and not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect to the crimes. That means the jury first had to determine whether DeMint committed the assaults and then had to determine whether he was mentally responsible for his action.
On Friday, the jury found DeMint guilty of assaulting the two girls. On Tuesday afternoon, the jury rejected his claim of not being mentally responsible for his actions.
After the jury reached its decision, Judge David Reddy sentenced DeMint to life in prison, without the possibility of parole.
Prior to the court hearing, DeMint had been previously convicted of sexually assaulting two girls ages 11 and 13 in Texas in the 1980s. At that time, DeMint was sentenced to 10 years in prison, but was released after serving 10 months.
After the jury reached its verdict, District Attorney Phillip Koss said DeMint's actions were unusual and extreme, even for a sex offender.
"He has a prior. There were two girls last time and there were two girls this time," Koss said. "He is older than many sex offenders, there were many types of contact with these girls, there was the extreme to wish he blames them and he used pornography to assist in his offenses."
Koss said DeMint also assaulted the girls while other people were in the home.
"I assume it was eye-opening for a jury to realize that this stuff can happen with other people in the house," Koss said.
Koss presented the jury with two taped statements from the victim and a confession from DeMint.
"My analysis always starts with looking at what the girls have to say. They both were very explicit on what happened to them. So, even without his confession I think we issue (charges)," Koss said. "I think what makes it the strongest to prove, however, is his confession and the officers did a good job on that."
In his confession, DeMint blames his victims for the assaults.
"I think he said 89 percent — I don't know where he got the statistic from or how he kept track of it — but 89 percent of the contact was initiated by the girls," Koss said.
DeMint told authorities the victims coerced him into the assaults. DeMint said the victims told him if he didn't have the sexual contact, they would tell police that he did have sexual contact with them."
"Deflection, blaming the victim and minimization is pretty common in sex offenders," Koss said. "This was just to an extreme."
Koss said DeMint's father, Carlous DeMint, was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault in Walworth County in 2002. Koss, who also prosecuted that case, said Carlous DeMint's victim was a young girl.
Chris DeMint claims to have been a victim of sexual abuse at some point in his life, Koss said.
In his opening statement Koss, outlined how the allegations against DeMint came to light.
The victims told their mother and grandmother about the alleged sexual abuse, and the adults contacted the Walworth County Sheriff's Department.
Koss said when the adults confronted DeMint, DeMint reportedly told the adults, "I'm sorry."
Walworth County Sheriff's Deputy Jerry Post was the first person on the scene. DeMint allegedly told Post about the assaults, but blamed the two young victims for it.
Town of Delavan Sgt. Raymond Clark, who is with the Walworth County Sexual Assaults Task Force, was called to interview DeMint. In the recorded interview, DeMint said the youngest girl had a "hands problem."
"The major thing I did wrong is I allowed it to happen," DeMint told Clark in the recorded interview.
During the interview, DeMint also said the assaults occurred about 40 times with one of the children and 15 with the other, according to the criminal complaint.
Both of the girls were taken to Lakeland Medical Center where they were examined by a sexual assault nurse. The nurse found evidence consistent with sexual abuse, but DNA from DeMint was not discovered, Koss said.
The state's first witness was Paula Hocking, director of the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center. Hocking is a forensic interviewer who handles cases of neglect and sexual abuse involving children.
In a taped interview with Hocking, which was played to the jury, the oldest victim described the assaults and what had occurred. Throughout the interview, when the girl spoke off the assaults, she often spoke softly or whispered to Hocking.
On the tape, the victim told Hocking the assaults began when she was in kindergarten and didn't report them because she was afraid she would get in trouble. The alleged victim also said DeMint told her not tell anyone and that it was a secret.
Koss said the assaults began around Easter of 2008. At that time, the youngest victim was about to turn 4 and the other girl was about to turn 6. The assaults allegedly continued until just before the girls reported them on June 27, 2010. Criminal charges were filed against DeMint on July 2, 2010.