In an outcome the family has called an “absolute joke,” a grandfather who pleaded guilty to molesting his 6-year-old granddaughter will avoid jail time as part of a plea deal.
Iowa judge James McGlynn suspended Dean Hilpipre's 10-year jail sentence on Friday and instead ordered him to serve five years probation for lascivious acts with a child. Hilpipre was originally charged with two counts of felony second-degree sexual abuse.
The victim’s 13-year-old sister first reported the abuse to a school counselor and said her little sister had been forced into oral sex and inappropriate touching with their grandfather. As part of the plea deal, Hilpipre admitted in open court that he committed the crimes.
The family of the young victim, who is now 7 years old, begged the judge to send Hilpipre to jail. Mother Kasey Hilpipre, who was once married to the offender’s son, told Newsweek that the court had been insensitive to to her daughter.
“I feel as though the judge and both the assistant attorney general and county attorney were more concerned in the well-being and health of the monster who did this than the wonderful, sweet-hearted child who will struggle all her life with the destruction this man caused,” Kasey said. “The plea deal is still hard to swallow, and it will always feel that way. They failed my child by not providing safety and justice."
The small town has no police department, and the grandfather lives close by, the mother said. She added that the case languished for months without receiving proper attention. .
“The case sat on the desk for six months before anyone even charged the grandfather,” Kasey said. “My mother and I had to hire an attorney to even get them to do their jobs.”
Denise Patters, Assistant Hardin County Attorney, told Newsweek that a deal was offered because there was a high risk of acquittal at trial.
"The decision to offer the plea was based on our assessment of the admissible evidence, the likely outcome of witness testimony, and our experience prosecuting child sexual abuse cases," Patters said.
She said she first received a report regarding the abuse allegations in December 2016 and that a criminal investigation took six months to conclude.
The case has incensed many community members in Hardin County, leading to a deluge of emails to the judge and courthouse in support of the victim. Hilpipre also won $100,000 in the Iowa Lottery, which he accepted while awaiting sentencing—a windfall that many on social media and local message boards said should be confiscated.
“The case was a sideshow, to be honest,” Kasey Hilpipre said. “My message for the judge and attorneys is, even though you all may have failed in providing justice or any kind of security, I will never fail my child, and she will grow up to know the names of the ones who did and the names of the ones who didn't."
Hilpipre's sentence comes with additional requirements that he register as a sex offender, stay away from drugs and alcohol and undergo sex offender treatment. The Hardin County man, who has four children and 13 grandchildren, is not allowed to contact the victim for at least five years, according to court documents.