Man Who Admitted Molesting His Granddaughter May Avoid Prison; Mom Asks 'What Justice Is That?'

Dean Hilpipre, 61, pleaded guilty and will be sentenced Feb. 23

After a 61-year-old Iowa man admitted in open court to sexually abusing his granddaughter, the victim’s mother is asking why prosecutors are recommending he be given probation instead of prison time.

“What’s five years’ probation?” asked Kasey Hilpipre, the mother of the victim, according to WHO TV. “Is he gonna pick her up again and take her into the woods again and she may not come out? What justice is that? What safety is that for the remainder of her life?”

Dean Hilpipre, of Alden, the victim’s paternal grandfather, pleaded guilty Jan. 4 to one Class C felony of lascivious acts with a child, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, Denise Patters, the assistant Hardin County attorney on the case, tells PEOPLE.

The plea agreement reflected a reduction in the initial two charges of Class B second-degree sexual abuse, both of which had carried a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

The victim was 6 years old in November 2016 when she alerted her older sister to the abuse, which the victim said happened “over and over” in the woods, in a bathroom, and in a bedroom that her grandfather would lock, according to a child abuse report obtained by the Des Moines Register.

The prosecutor alleged that the repeated actions went back as far as January 2012.

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Hardin County Sheriff's Office

The victim worried that if she told anyone, her grandfather would go to jail, according to a videotaped interview she gave in the presence of a sheriff’s deputy, a child protective worker and her parents, the Register reports.

A prison term still is a possibility when Hilpipre is sentenced on Feb. 23. “The judge may make any sentencing decision he thinks is appropriate,” Patters tells PEOPLE.

But in a plea agreement, the local prosecutor’s office, which worked on the case with the help of the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, recommends that Hilpipre receive a suspended sentence and five years of probation, during which he must stay away from the victim.

The 5-year “no-contact” order can be renewed in perpetuity; the plea also recommends that Hilpipre be listed permanently on a sex-offender registry, with required therapy, GPS monitoring and, after his probation expires, a “special sentence” equal to parole for the rest of his life, Patters says.

The victim’s family did not like the plea agreement.

“Why don’t you just throw in a spa day?” the victim’s maternal grandmother, Deborah Yanna, said at the plea hearing, she told the Register. “I was just stunned.”

Patters says she can not comment on the specifics of the case while it’s pending. But when prosecuting child sexual abuse cases in general, she says, “essentially we take the facts of the case, and then we take all the other information we have and all the different factors, and we bring them all together and we come to the decision.”

“It’s not always the outcome that we want, but we take the victim’s wants and the family’s wants into consideration,” she says. “Those things are part of the equation. These are not decisions that are taken lightly by any means.”

Hilpipre’s attorney, George Appleby, told PEOPLE by email that he is “not at liberty” to discuss the case.

Kasey Hilpipre and Deborah Yanna reacted to the plea agreement by posting on a Facebook page, titled “JUSTICE for Our Little Girl,” and encouraging supporters to show up at the Feb. 23 sentencing for Dean Hiplpire. “JUSTICE WILL BE BROUGHT!” they wrote.

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Dean Hiplpipre does not have a prior criminal record, the Register reports.

In January, according to KIMT3 TV, Dean Hilpipre claimed a $100,000 prize in the Iowa Lottery’s “$100,000 Mega Crossword” scratch game.

“This little girl has a heart and she has a soul and she has a little mind, and this disgusting human hubris has broken her,” Yanna said, according to WHO TV. “He won the Iowa Lottery. He’s celebrating. He thinks he’s terrific. … Where’s her justice? Where’s her celebration. The rest of her life she will always remember.”

The victim and her family members will be allowed to share their comments with the judge at the time of sentencing, says Patters, who adds, “We’re doing what we can to facilitate that.”

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