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Mitchell man sentenced to 45 years in prison for raping, impregnating minor

Carl Sandlhauser, 34, of Mitchell, will serve his 45-year prison consecutively for three counts of fourth-degree rape, which impregnated the then 14-year-old victim.

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A Mitchell man was sentenced Tuesday to serve 45 years in prison for fourth-degree rape of a minor, stemming from consecutive incidents that occurred from March to December 2020.

Carl Sandlhauser, 34, of Mitchell, will serve his 45-year prison sentence consecutively for three counts of fourth-degree rape, which impregnated the then 14-year-old victim. When Sandlhauser is eligible for parole in 45 years, he will be required to register as a sex offender, as part of the maximum sentence he received Tuesday.

A letter that the victim submitted to the courts was read aloud during Tuesday’s sentencing hearing at the Davison County Public Safety Center, which detailed the consecutive rapes she suffered from.

“This whole thing has badly affected me. I’m not able to see any of my property or my cats because my mom has disowned me and forgot about me,” the victim wrote in the letter. “My mom hasn’t been in contact with me since Carl (Sandlhauser) was arrested. She’s been blaming me for all of this. To her, it’s my fault I got Carl (Sandlhauser) in this situation and got myself pregnant.”

Sandlhauser was arrested in early December after authorities received a report of a 14-year-old girl that “just discovered she was pregnant,” according to court documents. During the interview, the victim told authorities Sandlhauser had “sexual intercourse” with her three times a month.

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According to the victim, she had repeatedly told her mom and other adults who knew her mother that she was being raped by Sandlhauser. However, the victim’s letter stated that her mother "did not believe me." Following a visit to the doctor, the victim wrote in her letter that Sandlhauser admitted to ‘“doing it a couple times.”

“While me and mom went to the police station and Carl went in handcuffs into the police car. I tried to tell someone but was tired and not thinking straight. Mom was sitting next to me too, and I was freaking out wondering if I said something wrong… I knew she didn't believe me,” the victim wrote in the letter. “After this, Carl started to treat me more nicely and kind… I started thinking of Carl as my step-dad, but when he started touching me again I told my mind I couldn’t do this. I thought I was pregnant… When she told my mom, Carl said ‘No, and he didn’t sexually rape me.’ Once mom got to the doctor and talked to Carl, he said he ‘did a couple times,’ and mom lost it.”

The victim also explained what type of sentence she was hoping Sandlhauser would receive.

“As far as what I would like to see happen, I want Carl to be in prison until I approve he is allowed to be out. I’d like him to be in there for 100 years. If he gets out in 45 years, then my child, which is also his, would be 45 years old,” the victim wrote.

Prior to Judge Chris Giles handing down the maximum sentence to Sandlhauser for the rape charges, he expressed his sympathy for the victim, saying she went through “more trauma than he could ever imagine.” With the severity of the rape incidents, Giles said Sandlhauser deserved the maximum sentence.

“In my mind, you are a predator and a danger to society … You claim to be sorry and remorseful of what happened, but I believe you are sorry because you were caught,” Giles said to Sandlhauser. “You told court services you knew what you were doing was wrong almost immediately. Yet you continued with this conduct and behavior for months and never stopped until the victim became pregnant and you were caught.”

Witnesses and family members of the victim testified during Tuesday’s hearing. A witness in the case who is a cousin of the victim testified on the rape and said it “tore the family apart.”

"The past couple months have been pretty hard... Watching a 14-year-old little girl who has to learn to be a 14-year-old woman fast is horrible,” the witness said. “You have no remorse. You play the victim, but you’re not. She is. I hate you for what you did. You ruined this family."

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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