Koskan pleads guilty to two charges of incest, sentenced to 10 years in prison

Joel Koskan, 44, waived his right to a delay in sentencing
Joel Koskan was arrested and taken into the custody of law enforcement officers after pleading...
Joel Koskan was arrested and taken into the custody of law enforcement officers after pleading guilty to two charges of incest.(Austin Goss DNN/KOTA)
Published: Apr. 11, 2023 at 12:24 PM MDT
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PIERRE, S.D. - Disgraced former South Dakota state senate candidate Joel Koskan has been sentenced to ten years in state prison on two charges of incest.

Judge Margo Northup, a Sixth Circuit Court Judge, opted to sentence Koskan to the maximum sentence, and to pay roughly $20,000 in fines during a sentencing hearing Tuesday at the Hughes County courthouse.

The charges Koskan pleaded guilty to stem from crimes committed at his residence.

“He acted like a jealous lover more than a father,” Northup said. “He took advantage of a child that viewed him as a father.”

But Koskan’s need for control didn’t end once the investigation began. Immediately after Koskan found out that the victim had reported his crimes to the Spink County Sheriff’s office, Koskan sought to pressure the victim to back off the allegations against him.

Shortly after the victim approached police for the first time, Koskan reported the victim’s vehicle as stolen to the police.

As a result, the victim struggled with mental health issues, having intermittent panic attacks most specifically when speaking with law enforcement and prosecutors.

“She would not be in the position she is if not for the defendant’s actions,” said Brent Kempema, a Deputy Attorney General who represented the prosecution.

Koskan’s family also pressured the victim to not cooperate with law enforcement. According to the prosecution, family members of Koskan’s sent the victim a news article, detailing how a former South Dakota state lawmaker had rape charges dismissed against him because the victims chose not to cooperate in the investigation.

“The defendant’s gamble didn’t pay off. He gambled she would fold and she didn’t,” Kempema said in his closing remarks. “He needs to pay for his failed gamble.”

Koskan apologized to the victim during Tuesday’s proceedings.

Koskan, a resident of Wood, had been an active and involved member of his community for years. In addition to helping run his family’s farm, Koskan at one point served as a firefighter, and on the local school board.

“As far as public image, he had a pristine image,” Northup said of Koskan.

But Koskan’s life and personality at home were far different. A self-admitted porn addict, Koskan “controlled every aspect of the victim’s life,” putting cameras in their room, and tracking their location into adulthood.

Koskan and his attorney, Clint Sargent of Sioux Falls, had initially reached a highly criticized plea agreement with the state that would not have required Koskan to serve any prison time, nor register as a sex offender. Judge Northup rejected that plea agreement last month.

Now, Koskan will have to both serve prison time, and register as a sex offender upon reentering society.

The victim provided a victim impact statement to the court during the proceedings.

“You went to school and know the laws and know what needs to be done,” the victim said to the judge. “This has been going on too long and it has been very hard for me.... What he did will be with him for a long time, but it will be with me forever.”

Attorney General Marty Jackley issued the following statement on the sentencing:

“Justice has been served in this case because the victim overcame extraordinary conditions to cooperate with the prosecution,” said Jackley. “We applaud the victim for her courage and praise the difficult work of the investigators and prosecutors.”