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KOSCIUSKO — A Nappanee man was sentenced to four years at the Indiana Department of Corrections after molesting a child.
Lester R. Chupp, 72, 13778 N. CR 950W, Nappanee, was charged with child molesting, a level 4 felony.
On Jan. 17, a man reported to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office that a child had been inappropriately touched by Chupp when she was 10 or 11 years old.
According to court documents, the child told an adult that when she was between the ages of 9 and 13, Chupp was constantly asking to see specific parts of her body and sharing inappropriate sexual information with her. The adult also told officers that Chupp admitted to him that he had touched the child inappropriately on one occasion and asked to see specific parts of her body on another occasion.
An officer with the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office then spoke with Chupp. Chupp admitted to the officer that he inappropriately touched the child when she was 12 years old and asked to see a specific part of her body.
During court sentencing, the victim’s statement about her experiences with Chupp was read aloud by her father.
“When I was 9 years old, Lester would talk to me about animal breeding, sex and other uncomfortable subjects,” read the victim’s statement. “When I turned 11, he touched me inappropriately. I asked if I could tell my parents. He said no and said that if I told them, he would kill me.”
In her statement, the victim described Chupp’s inappropriate behavior and discussed how he had a huge impact on her childhood.
“When I turned 13, he asked me questions like if I had started my period yet or if I was touching myself inappropriately,” read the statement. “He just kept asking me strange questions and I always said no. I became depressed and suicidal…I felt numb and lonely, and felt that I couldn’t trust anyone, especially older men. I was absolutely terrified and I was convinced nobody loved me. Now, I have to live with knowing I never properly got to be a child because of what he did to me. I’m the one who had to overcome suicide and depression, and I’m still here because of my family and friends.”
The victim’s father then read his own statement for the court.
“For years, we asked [the victim] what was wrong, and she always said it was school,” said the father. “Then in November 2018, she told us what had happened. Lester chose to take every advantage of her. Because of what he did, she thinks like an adult even though she’s only 15. Today, we will let justice be served.”
The victim’s sister’s boyfriend also read a statement on behalf of the sister, then read his own statement.
“I always thought Lester was a good man,” read the sister’s statement. “But how could you do this to her, your own family? You have ruined my trust in you. Unless you make a serious change in your heart, I never want to see you again.”
“I hope someday you can stop blaming children for your own actions,” read the boyfriend’s statement. “I never expected this from you but I hope you can repent for your sins.”
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz praised the victim’s family members in court for acting quickly as soon as they learned about the incident.
“I can’t say it better than [the victim],” said Voelz. “Everyone who read a statement or had one showed courage by spilling their hearts. I will say that Lester gets credit for pleading guilt, but I don’t think he gets any credit for true remorse.”
“I can’t respond to any of the statements that were read here today,” said Defense Attorney Jack Birch. “Lester has been a law-abiding citizen for a majority of his life and he has shown remorse for this.”
Chupp then addressed the court and delivered his own statement.
“I apologize to [the victim] and her family, my family and my church,” said Chupp. “I know I have hurt a lot of people and I blame no one but myself.”
Kosciusko Superior Court One Judge David Cates sentenced Chupp to six years at IDOC for the child molesting charge. Two years of the sentence was suspended on formal probation. A no-contact order was also established between Chupp and the victim.
“This is on you, no one else,” said Cates.