Sioux Falls, SD
A Valley Springs man has been found guilty of raping a six-year-old girl last summer.
After three hours of deliberations, a Minnehaha County jury of seven women and five men found 57-year-old Kevin Buchholtz guilty of first degree rape, sexual contact with a child and indecent exposure.
Buchholtz is now facing life in prison for molesting the six-year-old girl inside the garage of his Valley Springs mobile home last summer and then again inside the bedroom.
"Absolutely, ultimately justice was served and the people of Valley Springs can sleep a little better now," Minnehaha County Deputy State's Attorney Crystal Johnson said after the verdict was read.
The six-year-old said in a recorded interview that Buchholtz fondled her in June 2011 when she was helping him clean the garage. She also said he exposed himself to her and fondled her inside his bedroom. The victim also told investigators that Buchholtz would give her pop and chips, had squirt guns in his house and even gave her a doll.
"It's very important and that interview is done shortly after her initial disclosure so everything is still fresh in her mind even though we are 14 months after the incident took place," Buchholtz said.
During closing arguments Buchholtz's attorneys questioned the girl's story.
“Law enforcement and those investigating this case saw what they wanted to see and they built their case around an innocent man,” Deputy Minnehaha County Public Defender Mike Miller said. “The investigation was a witch hunt.”
Defense attorneys said the fact that Buchholtz had pop, chips and toys in his house didn't make him a child molester. They also said that the six-year-old was confused by a different time when she said two young boys exposed themselves to her inside a garage.
But the jury didn't buy those arguments and prosecutors say it just didn't make sense that the six-year-old victim would make up all of the disturbing the details that she shared with investigators and the jury.
"If this girl was making it up, if this girl was lying, she had to be a genius liar," Johnson said.
Buchholtz faces a maximum of life in prison with the first degree rape charges.
There are still two other cases pending involving victims from Valley Springs.