PIERRE, S.D. – A former state lawmaker was sentenced Thursday to 44 years in prison for raping two foster daughters in phony medical examinations he said would help them sell their reproductive eggs to infertile couples.
Former state Rep. Ted Klaudt, 49, appears to have no sympathy for his victims or understand that what he did was wrong, Circuit Judge James W. Anderson said, turning aside a request for a shorter sentence.
The girls lived with Klaudt and his wife as part of a program that provides foster care for youths after they leave juvenile reform programs. One of them served as a page in the Legislature when Klaudt was a lawmaker.
Both testified that Klaudt touched their breasts and penetrated them with his fingers and a sex toy under the pretext that he was checking them for possible egg donation.
He was convicted in November of the rapes, which occurred in a motel room in Pierre, the state capital, during the 2005 and 2006 legislative sessions. He later pleaded guilty to two counts of witness tampering to avoid a second trial on charges of rapes suspected of taking place in his home.
Klaudt, a farmer and rancher, could face 10 years in prison when he is sentenced Tuesday on those charges.
Klaudt's lawyer had argued that his client's actions did not amount to rape because the girls consented to the exams. But prosecutors argued that the girls, who were ages 16 to 18 at the time, did not consent to what Klaudt was really doing.
He could have gotten a term of 100 years, but Anderson sentenced Klaudt to 11 years on each of four second-degree rape convictions, to be served consecutively. Klaudt can apply for parole in 22 years.
Klaudt spoke briefly during the sentencing hearing, apologizing to his wife, family, the public, members of the Legislature he served in from 1999 to 2006 -- and the victims.
"I'd like to publicly apologize to those girls for what I did to them," Klaudt said.
Klaudt's lawyer, Tim Rensch, said the sentence likely means Klaudt, who weighs more than 600 pounds and is in poor health, will die in prison.
"I think a man like that doesn't have that long to live," Rensch said after the hearing. "I don't know what the future holds for him, but he's not in good health."
The defense attorney had asked the judge to send Klaudt to prison for only four years because a longer sentence would amount to a life sentence. Klaudt could be rehabilitated, he said.
But Assistant Attorney General Patricia DeVaney argued that Klaudt violated the trust of his foster daughters and has never admitted that what he did was wrong.
"He's still in a stage of denial. ... In his mind apparently he believes he was trying to help these girls," DeVaney told the judge. "We have a sexual predator."
The former Republican lawmaker from the tiny town of Walker was initially scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 4, a proceeding delayed after he was admitted to a hospital for what his lawyer said might be a heart problem.
Klaudt left the House because of term limits, then ran for a Senate seat in 2006 but lost to a Democrat.