LIHUE — The man convicted of sexually assaulting his 6-year-old stepdaughter two decades ago will spend the next 20 years behind bars, a Kauai judge said Thursday.
Fifth Circuit Court Chief Judge Randal Valenciano sentenced Steven Westerman, 40, to two terms of 20 years in jail for the class A felonies he was convicted on. The terms are to run concurrently.
First Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Winn had requested that the terms run consecutively.
“I argued for what I believed was appropriate,” Winn told The Garden Island. “However, I respect the judge’s decision, and I know that the complaining witness is grateful for some closure in her life.”
After the sentencing, defense attorney Craig De Costa withdrew as Westerman’s attorney and said the public defender would be filing a notice of intent to appeal within 30 days if there were no conflict of interests.
“The sentence for these charges are mandated by the law,” De Costa said. “The only discretion the judge had was whether to run the terms concurrently or consecutively. I am pleased the court ran the terms concurrently. It will now be up to the appellate court to determine whether or not the conviction stands.”
Westerman was convicted on Jan. 15 on five of six counts of sexual assault in the first degree for acts he committed 20 years ago.
The 26-year-old victim made a statement to the court.
“It is wrong what you did and to deny it and put me through this not once but twice is emotionally traumatic. Your past has caught up with you,” she said speaking indirectly to Westerman. “But now that all has been said and done, I will no longer let this define me. I will stand tall because I am a survivor and no longer a victim. I will choose peace because as today my abuse will come to an end while your chapters are just beginning. I have found peace and justice is, and will be served.”
Westerman, dressed in a green jumpsuit and sporting a mustache, chose not to make a statement before he was sentenced.
De Costa told the court that the court should recognize that Westerman has no prior convictions and that in the 20 years that the alleged incident occurred that he is a very different person.
Westerman was 19 years old when the abuse began, according to testimony at trial.
De Costa also said several individuals had written letters in support of Westerman and that the court should consider those as evidence of his character.
Winn said she read the letters.
“It’s fine in that this is the way that people see him in whatever capacity they interact with him,” Winn said. “But sex assault does not happen out in public. Sex assault, in this case, happened behind closed doors to a 6 and 7-year-old.”
Winn repeated what the victim told the court minutes earlier about how she had been in “a living hell” during her childhood.