SD State Senate candidate makes first court appearance in child abuse case

Joel Koskan, who is currently seeking a seat in the South Dakota State Senate, appeared for the first time in court today after charges of child abuse were made against him last week.
Republican candidate for the South Dakota State Senate leaves the Mellette county courtroom...
Republican candidate for the South Dakota State Senate leaves the Mellette county courtroom after his first court appearance. Koskan is charged with child abuse that took place over the course of several years.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 12:21 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 7, 2022 at 5:26 PM CST
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WHITE RIVER, S.D. - A Republican candidate for the South Dakota State Senate made his first appearance before a sixth circuit court judge Monday morning.

Joel Koskan was charged with child abuse last week after allegations came to light that he groomed a female in his care over the course of several years.

Koskan and his attorney, Clint Sargent of Sioux Falls, attempted to enter into an agreed disposition with the state. That agreement would have required Koskan to enter into a guilty plea with the state, but likely would have allowed him to avoid the maximum punishment associated with a class four felony, ten years in prison and a potential $20,000 fine. The Mellette County Clerk of Courts said that the proposed agreement between the state and Koskan was not yet publicly available, but should be later this week.

Brent Kempema, an attorney with the South Dakota Attorney General’s office, represented the state at the hearing.

“It became clear to us after discussions with (the victim) that her desired outcome of the case would ultimately almost be a non-prosecution,” Kempema explained to the presiding judge, Margo Northrup.

Kempema also explained that Koskan was willing to accept some responsibility for his actions, but ultimately would deny any sexual intercourse had occurred throughout the alleged abuse. Kempema indicated on numerous occasions that (the victim) would prefer to avoid testifying in the case at all costs, on account of her “mental well-being.”

“She would like to come to a resolution on this matter that would address her primary concern, that the defendant receives help for any issues he may have,” Kempema explained.

Koskan is currently running in District 26 against incumbent Democratic House lawmaker Shawn Bordeaux (D-Mission). According to state law, it is too late for Koskan to be removed from the ballot.

According to court documents obtained by Dakota News Now/KOTA Territory, the allegations came to light after the victim revealed to a friend the extent of the abuse she had sustained over the course of several years. That friend reported the abuse to her father, who is a retired DCI agent.

The victim alleges that Koskan engaged in sexual acts with her over the course of several years, including when she was a child. Additionally, he tracked her location and activities using GPS devices on her phone and car. In the same filings, the victim goes on to state that Koskan had been “raping her since she was a young child.”

After a discussion with both attorneys, Judge Northrup indicated that she would like to consider the potential agreement over the course of the next month. For now, Koskan is required to avoid drugs and alcohol, and not contact anyone under the age of 18, specifically the victim. However, Koskan can maintain contact with the rest of his children, who live with him. The charge would not require him to register as a sex offender.

After deeming that Koskan was not a flight risk, Northrup required a $100,000 bond of Koskan. The judge will decide on whether or not to accept the agreement reached by the defense and prosecution at Koskan’s next court appearance on December 12th.