BROOKINGS – A Brookings man who pleaded guilty to two counts of rape in October and has reportedly admitted to “approximately 700 offenses with 15 different child victims” will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Robert Hanshaw, 31, was sentenced in Brookings County Circuit Court on Tuesday to two consecutive terms of life in prison for two counts of first-degree rape. The Class C felonies were each punishable by up to life in prison and a $50,000 fine and had mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years in prison.
Hanshaw admitted in October to sexually assaulting two young girls between October 2015 and November 2016, as well as taking pornographic photos and videos of the acts and distributing some of the material.
Google contacted law enforcement in November 2016 after it detected child pornography and traced it to Hanshaw’s email address in Brookings, State’s Attorney Abigail Howard said in October.
A Brookings County grand jury indicted Hanshaw in December 2016 on eight counts of first-degree rape, 11 counts of possessing, manufacturing or distributing child pornography, and one count of sexual contact with a child under 16.
In exchange for Hanshaw’s two guilty pleas, all other charges were dismissed, and no new charges will be brought against him.
Howard said Hanshaw has already been debriefed by law enforcement, and the plea deal stipulates that he agree to testify against co-defendants in the case.
At sentencing this week, Howard said the child involved in the two counts to which Hanshaw pleaded guilty suffered unthinkable abuse since she was 3 years old.
Howard said Hanshaw’s acts were not isolated and escalated over the years, and he cannot be trusted and is likely to reoffend. She added that the girl will be a victim over and over again, nationally and globally, due to the photos and videos that had been distributed.
Howard said there’s no way to undo what’s been done, but now is the time “to send a message that this abhorrent abuse of children won’t be tolerated in this community.”
The prosecutor requested a sentence of life in prison.
Defense attorney Rick Ribstein said Hanshaw also suffered longtime sexual abuse as a child, and victims sometimes, in turn, commit the same type of conduct that was forced upon them when they were young.
Hanshaw cooperated with authorities during his debriefing, and he feels sick about what happened and wants the victim to have a better life, Ribstein said.
The attorney asked the judge to consider a sentence that allows Hanshaw to be rehabilitated and released someday.
Circuit Judge Greg Stoltenburg said Hanshaw committed a heinous crime against a child, the most defenseless of all victims. Stoltenburg also agreed with a psychosexual evaluation that called Hanshaw a “disturbed individual” who is maladjusted.
Stoltenburg said Hanshaw has “self-reported” approximately 700 offenses with 15 different child victims, including relatives, neighbors and acquaintances.
The judge said he gave little weight in his sentence to rehabilitation and that it was focused on deterrence and punishment.
He then sentenced Hanshaw to two consecutive terms of life in prison with no eligibility for parole.
Hanshaw has to pay court-appointed attorney fees, $208 in court costs and $1,800 in restitution for a psychosexual evaluation. He can never have any contact with his victims or any child younger than 18 years old.
“You will spend the rest of your life in prison,” Stoltenburg told Hanshaw.
Contact Jill Fier at [email protected]