Judge rejects child abuse plea agreement for former SD State Senate candidate

Joel Koskan, a former Republican candidate for State Senate in South Dakota, pleaded not guilty to a charge of child abuse against him last November.
Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 2:30 PM CDT
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WHITE RIVER, S.D. - A Sixth Circuit Court Judge has rejected a plea agreement that state prosecutors had agreed to with Joel Koskan and his attorney.

Judge Margo D. Northrup said in a March 10th notice to both the prosecutors and defense that she would not be accepting the plea agreement. In the memo, Northrup notes that “the disposition of the case may be less favorable to him (Koskan) than that contemplated by the plea agreement” if he pleads guilty or no contest.

Last November, Koskan was charged with child abuse stemming from a relationship he had with a minor. At the time, Koskan was running as a Republican for the State Senate seat in District 26. He lost that race to Sen. Shawn Bordeaux (D-Mission).

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.

Koskan, 44, pleaded not guilty in November to the charge of child abuse. His attorney, Clint Sargent of Sioux Falls, declined to comment on the matter on Monday.

Deputy Attorney General Brent Kempema indicated during Monday’s hearing that the state may pursue more charges against Koskan, in light of the judge’s decision to reject the plea agreement. As part of the original plea agreement, Koskan would have avoided any prison time, and would not have been required to register as a sex offender.

Also as part of the plea agreement, Koskan was required to complete a psychosexual evaluation. A notice confirming the completion of that evaluation was posted on March 8th.

Since his last hearing in November, Koskan’s bond conditions have been updated to require he not contact or live with anyone under the age of 18. Koskan was previously allowed to live with his biological children over the duration of the court proceedings.

Judge Northrup indicated that the case will likely go to trial in late August or September. Koskan will have a status hearing at the Mellette County courthouse on May 15th.