TOLEDO — A 19-year-old woman said in court this week she was never the same 13-year-old girl after being sexually abused by Dustin Jefferson in 2013.
Referring to herself, she said, “She died the minute I first started talking to you.”
“It affected me so bad that I was afraid of my own dad and my uncles. I fell into a deep depression, and I started cutting a lot more,” the woman said in a victim impact statement Thursday in Tama County District Court.
The woman said she thought Jefferson should be in prison for life because she fears he will do the same thing to other girls.
Jefferson, 42, is serving a life sentence for the murder of his wife, Kerry O’Clair Jefferson, 32, in 2013.
In that case, prosecutors said he killed his wife because she had threatened to turn him in on an outstanding warrant for sexually abusing the 13-year-old girl.
Jefferson, originally charged with five counts of third-degree sexual abuse, pleaded guilty Thursday to assault with intent to commit sexual abuse, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was sentenced to time served.
Jefferson sexually abused the 13-year-old girl multiple times from May through July 2013 on the Meskwaki Settlement in Tama, court documents show.
This week, that victim said after she was abused she was treated badly by people who called her disparaging names and blamed her. She said she wanted to kill herself because of what people were saying about her.
“Dustin, I forgive you. It’s really hard, but I do,” the woman said. “Just know I’m happy now that you’re locked up.”
The woman’s mother, in a victim’s impact statement, said, “As her mother, my heart has ached, and I have silently screamed. Any moment alone meant the tears would fall for sure. I felt that I had failed her. One of my greatest fears for my children became a reality.”
The mother told the judge Jefferson sexually abused her daughter and that is the “crime that he should have to answer to.” She said parents need to “make a stand for their children” and send the message that sex crimes will not be tolerated, especially on children.
Tama County Attorney Brent Heeren said Friday having Jefferson plea to a lesser charge was the best resolution for the case, which has been pending for four years.
The prosecution and the defense agreed to wait and resolve the case after the appeal process in the murder case was complete.
“Balancing the potential life sentence for (Jefferson) in the murder case and the potential undue hardship facing the victim in the form of emotional trauma due to testifying,” Heeren said. “The plea agreement was the best disposition under all the circumstances.”
Jefferson was convicted by a jury in 2016, following two mistrials, for aiding and abetting in first-degree murder.
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According to testimony, he helped his mother, Ginger Jefferson, 61, kill his wife on Sept. 25, 2013.
Ginger Jefferson was convicted of first-degree murder in 2014. Testimony at her trial showed she stabbed her daughter-in-law twice in the neck.