WELD COUNTY, Colo. (TCD) -- A man who was found guilty of sexually abusing a young child and keeping them locked in a basement faces over a century in prison.
In a statement, the Weld County District Attorney’s Office said Dante Larks was convicted at the end of April on several assault-related charges, including sexual assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse causing serious bodily injury, and two counts of sex assault on a child — position of trust and pattern of abuse. He now faces up to 142 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Dacono Police launched an investigation into Larks in December 2018 for domestic violence. In 2019, officials started looking into sexual abuse and assault allegations by a juvenile against Larks. The District Attorney’s Office learned "the child victim was verbally, physically, emotionally and sexually abused by the defendant."
The victim reportedly told the District Attorney’s Office they were locked in an unfinished basement during some nights for several months.
The statement says, "The victim wasn’t allowed out of the basement except for a few hours a day, and at times, had to go to the bathroom in a bucket."
Larks reportedly threw peanut shells down the stairs, which was the extent of the child’s food for the day. Larks would also sexually assault the child while holding a gun when the child was asleep.
Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said, "This case, is by far, one of the most horrific and egregious cases that our office has ever seen. No child should ever experience the horror and trauma that this child will now have to live forever with."
According to Rourke, Larks' conviction is historic.
He said, "To our knowledge, this is the first time prosecutors have ever convinced both a judge and a jury that the impact and long-term damage that PTSD does to the brain can, and in this case did, amount to serious bodily injury."
He added, "This is monumental as we move forward and prosecute other egregious cases like this one."