South Dakota Senate candidate charged with multiple sexual assaults against adopted child

Joel Koskan (Photo/

Joel Koskan (Photo/

WHITE RIVER, SD – Just days before the midterm elections, a Republican candidate for the South Dakota state Senate was charged with child molestation in next week’s election.

Joel M. Koskan was charged Thursday with multiple sexual acts against his adopted daughter.

Koskan’s challenger in the District 26 state senatorship race is current state assemblyman Shawn Bordeaux, an enrolled Rosebud Sioux tribe.

South Dakota Assistant Attorney General Mandy Miller filed charges against Koskan on Thursday for rape, sexual contact with a child under the age of sixteen and aggravated incest involving a child.

According to court documents obtained by Native News Online on Thursday, the crimes began in 2014 when the adopted child, aged 12, was brought into the home. Questioned by law enforcement earlier this year, the victim revealed she was adopted by Joel and Sally Koskan 10 years ago. When she realized what inappropriate touching was during a summer youth camp in the Black Hills, she told camp counselors that her adoptive father, Joel, had a sexual interest in her and wanted to be sexually intimate with her.

Due to the insecurity of the South Dakota foster care system, she told investigators that she declined to reveal any more information when the camp notified the South Dakota Department of Social Services.

Summer camp kept her in the Black Hills for another two weeks. She told investigators that when she returned home, her parents were angry with her and accused her of trying to destroy the family. She said that her father’s touches stopped for a year or two and that her mother, Sally, began to monitor Joel’s interactions more closely.

After her return from the camp, a camera was set up in her house, giving her father the opportunity to constantly watch her live on his cell phone. She later explained to her parents that a camera set up in her room made her feel very uncomfortable, only to be told her requests were “disrespectful.”

In her statement to police, she explained that her adoptive father closely monitored her actions and clothing, including whether or not she could wear a bra. Additionally, he had her straddle him as a teenager, wearing only a nightgown with no clothes underneath.

It wasn’t until she was 17 that she revealed that Joel had penetrated her vagina with his fingers, which eventually led to numerous intercourses at the family’s separate homes in Mellette County and Watertown, South Dakota.

According to court documents, South Dakota cybercrime investigator Shane Hardie conducted an investigation into the victim’s cellphone, which she says contained an app that monitors her live location and daily activities. Investigators confirmed that multiple text messages were identified relating to the GPS location of her phone and video surveillance of her daily activities. Investigators also noted in the complaint that on May 6, 2022, a text message from Joel read, “You promised you would never do this” and “I beg you, you don’t want to do this.”

Koskan was summoned today and court records show he was taken into custody. A first hearing has been scheduled for November 7 in a Mellette County courtroom. If convicted of the charges, he faces up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $20,000.

“These allegations against Joel Koskan are deeply disturbing and he should end his campaign immediately,” Randy Seiler, leader of the Republican SD party, said in a statement Thursday. “Although he will still appear on the ballot, the choice for District 26 voters couldn’t be clearer. Aside from party politics, Joel Koskan should not be voting in the Legislature on issues affecting children in South Dakota — or any issues at all.”

There have been numerous reports that the victim belonged to a South Dakota tribe, but due to the confidentiality and sensitive nature of the crimes involving minors at the time of the crimes, Native News Online cannot confirm if the victim belonged to a local tribe .

EDITORS’ NOTE: In cases of alleged sex crimes, Native News Online works to protect the identity and privacy of all alleged victims and/or witnesses in our reporting. Due to this policy, some identifying details in this story have been intentionally omitted.

About the author: “Darren Thompson (Lac du Flambeau Ojibwe) is a reporter for Native News Online based in Minnesota’s Twin Cities. Thompson has covered political unrest, tribal sovereignty and indigenous issues for the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Indian Country Today, Native News Online, and Unicorn Riot. He has contributed to various Indigenous issues in international conversation for The New York Times, Washington Post and Voice of America. He holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology & law studies from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Contact: [email protected] South Dakota Senate candidate charged with multiple sexual assaults against adopted child

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