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State Senate candidate facing felony sexual misconduct charge

Joel Koskan photo from his campaign website.
Joel Koskan photo from his campaign website.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story contains details of a criminal act against a minor. SDPB is not identifying the victim in this case.

A state senate candidate is being charged with exposing a minor to sexual grooming behaviors.

That’s a class four felony.

Joel Koskan is a Republican running for state Senate in District 26.

Assistant Attorney General Mandy Miller filed charges against Koskan on Thursday.

Court documents indicate the crimes began in 2014 when the child was 12 years old.

According to a probable cause statement obtained by SDPB, the Division of Criminal Investigation met with the victim earlier this year for an interview. The DCI report, now under seal, details years of child sexual abuse and surveillance.

The documents show DCI agents said probable cause exists to show Koskan committed acts of rape and sexual contact with a child under sixteen.

According to the statement, the victim told DCI agents Koskan had been raping them since they “were a young child.”

The victim told special agents whenever they tried to remove themselves from “the uncomfortable situation, or sit across the room away from Joel,” the child was told they were being “’disrespectful to the family’ and required to ‘come closer and apologize.’”

According to the report, which was submitted under oath, when the victim got older, Koskan required the victim to wear “only a nightgown with no underwear on. During these occasions Joel would often require [the victim] to straddle him after [the victim] got out of the shower…”

If the victim did not return affection, Koskan would accuse them of being “distant or difficult,” according to the statement.

The report states Koskan would enter the victim’s room and start hugging, kissing and touching them under their clothing. The victim told investigators they would not say anything to Koskan while the acts occurred. The actions progressed “to the point where they would have full sexual intercourse.”

The report also details Koskan’s GPS tracking and video monitoring of the victim’s daily activities. Internet Crimes Against Children investigators were able to confirm multiple text messages that referenced the surveillance.

“Additionally, on 05/06/22 a text exchange occurred with Joel Koskan where Joel states, ‘you promised you’d never do this’ and ‘I’m begging you [Victim], you don’t want to do this,’” the DCI report states.

The victim told agents the messages were in reference to them making the report to law enforcement regarding the sexual relationship.

Koskan is a Wood resident running against Democrat Shawn Bordeaux.

The state Democratic party is calling on Koskan to end his campaign.

“These allegations concerning Joel Koskan are deeply disturbing, and he should immediately end his campaign. While he will still appear on the ballot, the choice for the voters of District 26 couldn’t be clearer," said party chair Randy Seiler. "Partisan politics aside, Joel Koskan should not be voting in the legislature on issues that affect South Dakota kids - or any issues at all.”

Koskan has been an active political voice on Twitter. His account is now private. The candidate’s website is also taken down.

SDPB News was unable to reach Koskan for comment. He is scheduled to appear in court Monday morning.

Lee Strubinger is SDPB’s Rapid City-based news and political reporter. A former reporter for Fort Lupton Press (CO) and Colorado Public Radio, Lee holds a master’s in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.
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