Man’s 72-year sentence for child molestation upheld

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a man’s 72-year sentence for molesting his young daughter, finding the trial court did not consider identical facts at sentencing hearings on two separate charges.

During a period of time when his daughter K.D. lived with him in Indiana, Kyle Dilts repeatedly touched her inappropriately, each time telling her not to tell anyone. K.D. confided in a friend in 2013, and the friend eventually informed her mother, Michelle Bowman, about the molestations.

Bowman then told K.D.’s mother, Samantha Dilts, about Kyle Dilts’ actions, and the allegations were reported to the Indiana Department of Child Services and the Dearborn County Sheriff’s Department. K.D. told various state officials her father had begun molesting her when she was 9 years old and that he had also molested her sister.

Dilts was ultimately charged with two counts of Class A felony child molesting with respect to K.D., one based on sexual intercourse and one based on deviate sexual conduct. Dilts requested the deviate sexual conduct count be dismissed, arguing the factual allegations for both charges were identical, but the Dearborn Superior Court denied that request and a jury found him guilty as charged.

However, the trial court vacated Dilts’ deviate conduct conviction at his sentencing hearing, then imposed a 36-year sentence for the remaining conviction. Dilts filed an initial appeal challenging evidence admitted at trial, but the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction on the sexual intercourse charge. However, the appellate court also reversed the decision to vacate the second charge and remanded the case for an entry of judgment and sentence on that charge.

At a subsequent sentencing hearing, Samantha Dilts testified that K.D. still struggled with the impact of the molestations two years after the initial sentencing. Additionally, she said Kyle Dilts had been charged with molesting a different victim in the time since he was first sentenced.

The Dearborn Circuit Court then sentenced Dilts to an additional 36 years, for an aggregate sentence of 72 years total. Dilts appealed, arguing the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing him because the trial court considered the same facts at both sentencing hearings, and that his sentence was inappropriate.

But the Indiana Court of Appeals disagreed, with Judge Rudolph Pyle writing in Kyle W. Dilts v. State of Indiana, 15A04-1610-CR-2316, that “the record reveals that the trial court did not consider the same set of facts for both of his sentences.” Further, additional evidence, including Samantha Dilts’ testimony, was introduced at Dilts’ second sentencing, and the trial court explicitly said its second sentence was based on “additional facts” not present during the first sentencing.

Additionally, “(t)he evidence showed the Dilts repeatedly abused a vital position of trust with his young daughter, K.D.,” Pyle said, so the 72-year sentence was not inappropriate.

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