By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — After one hour of deliberation in a one-day trial, a 12-person jury found a Silver Lake man guilty of molesting two children.
Daniel S. Louvier, 37, was arrested in January and charged with two counts of child molesting, both level 4 felonies.
In Indiana, a Level 4 felony charge carries a two- to 12-year prison sentence.
According to court documents, on Dec. 9, 2019, a Child Protective Services caseworker contacted the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office. The caseworker said she had received complaints of molestation committed by Louvier that involved fondling two children.
A forensic interview was conducted by a DCS family case manager with one of the children on Dec. 9, 2019. During the interview, the child said that Louvier touched them inappropriately multiple times over the past year. The child said the touching would happen when they were watching movies or television together. The child also said Louvier would pull them closer to him or pull them onto his lap and touch them inappropriately.
On Dec. 11, 2019, a forensic interview was conducted with the second child. The child said Louvier touched them inappropriately multiple times during the previous school year. The child said they would be sitting on the couch watching television when Louvier would pull them closer and touch them.
Nine men and three women were seated on the jury on Tuesday, Oct. 13, in Kosciusko Superior Court One, with Judge David Cates presiding.
In his opening statement, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz described Louvier as a predator who sexually molested the two children several times. Defense Attorney Travis Neff argued that Louvier has never once admitted to the allegations and asked the jurors to keep an open mind about the charges.
Voelz called five witnesses for testify, including the two children. The first witness was the mother of one of the victims; the mother was formerly married to Louvier and said Louvier is the biological father of one of the children he molested.
In her testimony, the mother said after she had a conversation with one of her children about risky online behavior, her child told her that Louvier touched them inappropriately. Upon hearing this, the mother took the child to the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office to file a report.
The mother said Louvier was not involved in the child’s life until 2018, when the child started to visit Louvier at his residence.
“I was disgusted, shocked but not surprised,” said the mother when asked through cross-examination about her initial thoughts on her child’s revelation.
Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office Detective Neil Likens, the lead detective in the case, was the next person to testify. Likens said he contacted the Department of Child Services to complete specialized forensic interviews with the children. Through preliminary investigation, Likens said he determined that the child who initially reported the molestation knew that a second child had been inappropriately touched.
Likens also said he interviewed Louvier for an hour and determined there would be no physical evidence that molestations had occurred. Louvier also did not admit guilt during the interview.
Melissa Stephan was the state’s third witness. Stephan formerly worked as a forensic interviewer at the Kosciusko County DCS. In her testimony, she elaborated about the interview protocol she followed with both victims. With that type of process, interviewers focus on building rapport with subjects, followed by transitioning to any topics of concern, exploring the concerning topics and then closing with a neutral topic such as a hobby.
Stephan said both children were a little nervous at first during their interviews but that neither one had issues in talking about what occurred.
In cross-examination, Neff asked if any medical or psychological exams were conducted on the children. Stephan said she was not aware of any and that she wasn’t qualified to perform those types of tests.
The child who initially reported the incidents was then called to the stand and gave an emotional testimony. While taking frequent breaks and in the care of Maverick the therapy dog, the child provided details in how Louvier inappropriately touched them.
The child said they would be sitting on the couch watching television when Louvier would reach out, put his arm around the child and inappropriately touch them; the child said Louvier would do this while others who lived there were at work or school. When asked to recall how frequently the touching occurred, the child estimated it happened close to 10 times.
A juror asked the child why they waited to say anything about what happened.
“I was scared to tell anybody because I didn’t think anyone would believe me,” said the child.
The state’s final witness was the second child. The child said Louvier was formerly engaged to their mother.
“He would touch me inappropriately and I didn’t know what to do,” said the child.
The child said the incidents usually happened on a couch while watching television and recalled an incident where they asked Louvier to help them with a homework assignment in their bedroom. At that time, Louvier inappropriately touched the child.
When asked to recall how many times they were inappropriately touched, the child said it was more than 10 times.
After the state rested, the defense also rested their case and called no witnesses to the stand. Louvier did not testify.
“Children trust adults to protect them,” said Voelz in his closing statement. “He betrayed them. They were weak and vulnerable. Instead of being a protector, he was their predator. Predators attack the weak and try to discredit them. These kids bravely did something that would be unimaginable for you and me.”
Voelz focused on the children having credible and consistent testimonies, comparing the facts each child provided about their experiences with Louvier.
“Touching a child in that place for a prolonged period of time has no intent but a sexual one,” said Voelz.
Neff closed by emphasizing the lack of physical evidence and how three people who provided testimony didn’t witness the incidents.
Following the verdict, Louvier was remanded into the custody of the sheriff. Sentencing is set for 9:30 a.m. Nov. 9.