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Stancer found guilty on all counts

Sentencing hearing set March 1

NEW ULM — Travis Stancer was found guilty on all four counts of felony first-degree criminal sexual conduct Friday, after a two-day court trial in Brown County District Court.

Stancer. 45, was found guilty of two counts of 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under age 13, actor 36 months older; and two counts of 1st-degree criminal sexual conduct penetration or contact with a victim under age 13 that he had a significant relationship with between April 25, 2011 and April 24, 2014.

A hearing on whether Stancer wants a jury trial for the sentencing phase of the trial was set for 11:15 a.m., Monday, March 1 in Brown County District Court. Stancer remains in Brown County Jail custody on $250,000 unconditional bail.

The victim, 14, testified Thursday that Stancer forced her to have sex with him a number of times several years ago and that he hit her, slapping her on the butt and leaving a mark on one occasion.

Public defender Greg Handevidt of Mankato asked the girl if it was possible her report of abuse was a dream.

“No, because it really happened,” said the girl.

She testified that she was scared of Stancer because he yelled at her and hit her.

On Friday, Handevidt said Stancer’s daughter’s testimony was not consistent with a interview conducted by Brown County Child Protection Agent Stacy Helget on March 13, 2019 that was done to follow up on sexual abuse allegations the girl made years after she said they took place.

Helget testified that the girl told her Stancer got on top of her in her mother’s bedroom, she tried to yell for her brother, but Stancer put his hand on her mouth.

On another occasion, Helget said the girl described the sexual assaults. She said the girl told her Stancer closed the bedroom door and locked it. Another time, she said he got into a shower with her and pushed her up against a wall.

“Sexual abuse occurred to (the girl),” Helget testified.

State’s attorney Andrea Lieser called a Bentonville, Wash. forensic interviewer to the stand who testified the frequency of false sexual abuse allegations is relatively low.

She talked about why such allegations may be delayed or never made.

“When a child has a close relationship to the offender, a delay in telling about it (sexual abuse) is greater, or it less likely to be reported,” said the interviewer.

She also testified that there is no “perfect” interview.

Jordan Maki of New Ulm, the brother of the girl who alleged she was abused, testified their house was “scary,” a place he didin’t want to be, with Stancer coming home drunk at night or early in the morning, waking up everyone, and punishing his sisters and mother by spanking and slapping them. Maki testified Stancer often slept on a living room couch with the girl.

In her closing argument, State’s Attorney Andrea Lieser said the girl testified about the sexual abuse and drama she had beginning at age five.

“She didn’t want to disclose it then because she was scared. She was sexually abused …,” Lieser said.

“The defense is ripping her apart, saying she’s a liar,” Lieser said. “She identified her perpetrator. Why was it later safe to tell her story? Because her dad was in jail. He ripped away her adolescence.”

Handevidt said there were “glaring inconsistencies” in the stories the girl told.

“There is no way for anyone to know what happened in that house,” Handevidt said. “(The girl’s) testimony is wildly inconsistent. The State has not met its burden of proof that this happened.”

Lieser said nobody will take the same story exactly the same way every time.

“Mr. Stancer had sex with (the girl) in their home,” she said.

(Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com).

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