Christopher Dionne was arrested in January 2018 for the sexual assault of a minor

By Gabrielle Chung
December 13, 2019 07:42 AM
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Christopher Dionne, a former host of an HGTV home remodeling pilot, has been sentenced to three years in jail for molesting a 10-year-old girl in his Connecticut home, PEOPLE can confirm.

The sentence was passed down on Wednesday at the New London Superior Court, according to court documents.

Dionne was sentenced to seven years in prison — which will be suspended after three years served — and 10 years of probation following his release, the documents read. He will be required to register as a sexual offender, The Day of New London reported, and also adhere to a criminal protective order that prohibits him from contacting the victim for the remainder of his life.

According to the local newspaper, Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed said that she had considered Dionne's lack of a criminal record and the seriousness of the offense in crafting the sentence.

The victim was not present at the sentencing, the outlet reported, but the child's mother was in attendance and spoke about how the girl “was subject to public humiliation and the target of hate messages on social media” after the family had gone to the police.

When asked if he wanted to speak, Dionne said he didn't wish to address anyone, according to The Day of New London, but thanked friends and family for their support as well as expressed gratitude to the prosecutor.

Dionne was arrested in January 2018 and convicted of risk of injury to a minor and fourth degree sexual assault at a trial this October.

Christopher Dionne
Connecticut State Police

According to the arrest warrant application obtained by PEOPLE, Dionne's victim said he touched her inappropriately while she was at a birthday sleepover at his house in November 2017 — waking her up around 1:30 a.m. by placing his hand against her buttocks under her pajamas as she laid on her belly. She said he later reached his hand under her bra and jiggled her chest, even allegedly taking a photo of her on his phone.

Dionne molested the girl twice, several hours apart, the child said. Dionne's 14-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter were in the room sleeping while it happened.

During the assault, Dionne asked the victim if she wanted to see his genitals, asking her, “Are you a big girl or a little girl?” and telling her, “If you tell your mom, I'll go to jail and (my daughter) won't have a daddy.”

When she refused his advances, Dionne eventually went back to his room.

This wasn't the first time Dionne assaulted the girl. A similar incident also happened earlier, in September, and at that time, Dionne asked the girl if she wanted to kiss his genitals.

The friendship between the victim and Dionne's daughter ended after the assault.

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Dionne's show, Family Flip, ran for one episode back in 2015.

In a previous statement to PEOPLE, an HGTV spokesperson said, “The individual referenced appeared in a pilot that premiered on our network in 2015. The pilot was not picked up for series.”

Dionne is currently incarcerated at Corrigan-Radgowski Correctional Center.

According to The Day of New London, Dionne maintains his innocence while the victim's family has filed a civil lawsuit against him.

An attorney for Dionne told PEOPLE in a statement, “Juries err from time to time and did so in this case. We've been retained to take Mr. Dionne's appeal and to pursue a new trial. We remain hopeful that we can correct a manifest injustice. Mr. Dionne is, in fact, ‘not guilty.'”

If you suspect child abuse, call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453, or go to http://www.childhelp.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.