A 40-year-old Whitley County man pleaded guilty Monday in Whitley Circuit Court to charges related to the long-time abuse of a girl left in his care.
For reasons not specified, the mother of a then-12-year-old girl left her with Dean Pressler, according to Whitley County Prosecutor Matt Rentschler.
Over the years, Pressler repeatedly engaged in a sexual relationship with the girl, and in January, prosecutors charged him with child molesting, a Class A felony; sexual misconduct with a minor, a Class B felony; and child seduction, a Class D felony.
The three different charges relate to the different ages of the victim over time, and each charge alleges more than one instance of abuse, Rentschler said.
Under the terms of a plea agreement, the potential sentence Pressler faces will largely be left to the discretion of the judge, and could range from 20 to 70 years, Rentschler said.
At some point, a few years ago, the girl’s mother brought the girl to Pressler.
For a while both lived with him, but the mother moved away, leaving the girl with Pressler who acted as a kind of informal guardian.
Evidence came to light earlier this year when an inmate in the Whitley County jail said the abuse was ongoing, and had been for some time, Rentschler said.
Pressler also impregnated the girl twice, once when she was as young as 13. That child was later adopted, but the second child is currently the subject of a Department of Child Services investigation, Rentschler said.
During the time of the abuse, the girl attended school sporadically in both Whitley and Noble counties, he said. The girl’s mother has left the state.
The investigation is still ongoing, he said.