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South Dakota State Senate candidate Joel Koskan charged with grooming and raping underage relative

Joel Koskan is accused of grooming and abusing the girl for at least six years from 2014, when she was just 12
Joel Koskan has been charged with felony child abuse (
Joel Koskan has been charged with felony child abuse (

MELLETTE COUNTY, SOUTH DAKOTA: Following allegations that he manipulated, assaulted, and raped a juvenile family member for several years, a Republican candidate for the South Dakota Legislature has been charged with felony child abuse. After reviewing an investigation done by the South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation, Assistant Attorney General Mandy Miller charged Joel Koskan, who is seeking the state Senate for the third time, on Thursday, November 4 in Mellette County with subjecting the child to "sexual grooming activities." He is accused of grooming and abusing the girl for at least six years from 2014, when she was just 12.

​​According to the Daily Mail, the Republican allegedly started grooming the youngster by kissing her, giving her long hugs, and letting her sit on his lap. The girl apparently thought this behavior was among "normal things" that families were meant to do. When the child was 14, she attended a Christian summer camp where the counselors taught her about when physical contact with adults can turn inappropriate or sexual. It was then that the girl understood Koskan's behavior was inappropriate. She reported him to the police in May 2022.


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When she was 14, Koskan installed a camera in her bedroom so he could monitor her on his phone. After the girl turned 17, Koskan started abusing and raping her, which she claimed happened "many times" and at several homes across the state. He further appeared to be following the victim's whereabouts when she contacted investigators on May 6, according to texts the victim sent. Koskan allegedly texted her and said, "You swore you wouldn't ever do this. You don't want to do this, I beg you.”

Koskan is charged with many counts of rape, having intercourse with a minor under 16, and aggravated incest-related child abuse. He might be sentenced to ten years in jail and have to pay fines of up to $20,000. He has also removed his Twitter account and turned his campaign website private after the accusation surfaced.

Since then, the South Dakota Democratic Party has urged him to cease his campaign right away. Randy Seiler, the chairman of the state Democratic Party, said in a statement, "These claims against Joel Koskan are profoundly distressing, and he should immediately end his campaign."

Dan Lederman, the chairman of the South Dakota GOP, also condemned Koskan in response to the allegations and the subsequent arrest. "The allegation against Joel Koskan is very serious, and the South Dakota Republican Party unequivocally opposes child abuse in all forms," said the chairman.