A 73-year-old man who sexually assaulted two girls at his home will spend 90 days in Crow Wing County Jail, be on supervised probation for the next 25 years and must complete ongoing extensive psychotherapy/counseling treatment.

David Homer South, formerly of Crosby and now living in Henning, appeared in street clothes Wednesday, Aug. 21, in Crow Wing County District Court in Brainerd for sentencing in front of Judge Patricia A. Aanes. South pleaded guilty in May to two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving victims who were younger than age 16 at the time of the crime, who are relatives. The charges state the defendant used force and there were multiple acts.

South was initially charged in September 2018 with 10 felony counts of first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The charges accused him of using force, using his position of authority, causing the victims bodily harm, and engaging in multiple acts of sexual misconduct.

Crow Wing County Assistant Attorney Janine Lepage said there were previous allegations of criminal sexual misconduct against South, but he was acquitted by a jury of his peers in Crow Wing County. She said the two victims were reluctant to press charges against South because they thought he would hire a “fancy lawyer and get off” and they didn’t want to be called liars. Since South wanted to take accountability for the crimes and seek help, the state -- with guidance from the family -- agreed to depart from the sentencing guidelines, as long as South stays active in his therapy and makes progress.

Lepage read two victim impact statements -- one from a victim and the other from a victim’s mother. The victim wrote that she cannot sit in a public place as she worries she will see South and she feels like people look at her differently. She wrote that after she was “raped” her grades fell and she attempted suicide.

“When I look in the mirror I hate what I see,” the statement read. The victim stated she would like to know why he sexually assaulted her.

The victim’s mother said it has been really hard on the two girls and on the family. The girls have been in therapy and counseling and have been diagnosed with several mental illnesses, such as depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“This is heartbreaking,” the mother wrote. “They don’t trust anyone and are always looking for David in a crowd.”

Lepage said there is nothing the court can do to change what happened to the victims to make it better. She said at this point, the family doesn’t want him to die in prison, they want him to get better.

Defense attorney Justin M. Braulick said South is in treatment in Staples and is doing well, and asked that the court accept the agreement. Aanes accepted the plea agreement, with several conditions to include South have no contact by any means with the victims or any minors; he cannot possess any sexual oriented or stimulated materials; he cannot enter any place of business with sexual materials, such as adult book stores or strip clubs; he cannot go online on any sexual or chat rooms or dating services; and he cannot possess any firearms.

The case

According to the probable cause statement filed in court, authorities assisted Crow Wing County Community Services June 28, 2017, with the removal of children from a residence and an investigation began. Information was received that a then 7-year-old child reported South had sexual contact with her multiple times and she felt nervous and scared.

On July 6, 2017, a Crow Wing County social worker interviewed a second victim, who was 15 at the time, who said she was sexually assaulted by South.

The second victim told the social worker she spent the night at the South’s house and when she returned home the first victim asked her if she could tell her a secret, which was that South sexually assaulted her.

The 15-year-old told the social worker she went to South’s residence around Easter to help color eggs, but they never colored any eggs. She stated the defendant sexually assaulted her in the laundry room at his house. She told him to stop and he hit her on the head with his hand. South also told her if she told anyone he would hurt her or kill her, the complaint stated. The victim thought she was 13 years old at the time of the assault. She stated she never told anyone about it because she believed South would kill her.

The girl also stated on one occasion while at South’s residence, she came inside from feeding rabbits and the younger victim and South were in a room. She heard the younger victim saying, "Stop, stop," and South saying, "No." The older victim then walked in and saw South on top of the younger victim and told him to get out. The older victim stated South yelled at her and told her he could do what he wanted because he's the adult and has the authority. He then came at her and she ran outside.