A 64-year-old Bellevue, Neb., man will spend at least the next 17 years of his life in prison for sexually abusing two children at their family’s Mills County residence last fall.
John Schondelmeyer was sentenced in Mills County District Court Monday, nearly seven weeks after a Mills County jury found him guilty of two counts of second-degree sexual abuse, a Class B felony, and two counts of lascivious acts with a child, a Class C felony.
Prior to the sentencing, Judge James Heckerman denied a motion from Schondelmeyer’s attorney, William McGinn, for a new trial.
McGinn argued that evidence presented by the state during Schondelmeyer’s trial didn’t support a conviction. McGinn said the state failed to collect DNA after the allegations were made against his client and the juvenile victims gave conflicting testimony during the trial.
Heckerman agreed with Mills County Attorney Eric Hansen who said the testimony of the two girls, who were 7 and 8 years old at the time the crimes were committed, was sufficient, as was other evidence presented in the case.
Schondelmeyer made no statement on his own behalf Monday. His two victims, who were in the courtroom for the proceedings, submitted written statements to the court.
Schondelmeyer was given a 25-year sentence for the sexual abuse charges and 10 years for the lascivious acts with a child charges. Hansen asked the judge to have the sentences run consecutively, which would add up to 35 years.
“Given his level of denial and what he did to the girls, a 35-year sentence is deserved,” Hansen said.
Heckerman, however, denied Hansen’s recommendation and set Schondelmeyer’s sentences to run concurrently (25 years).
“There’s a better argument that all of these sentences should run concurrently,” Heckerman said. “I can’t remember any case when somebody has been convicted of this level of offense that has no prior criminal history.”
Schondelmeyer will be required to serve at least 70 percent (17 ½ years) of his 25-year sentence.
“This is basically a life sentence,” Heckerman said. “This man will be well over 80 years old.”
Schondelmeyer is facing additional charges in Nebraska. Following his arrest for the Iowa charges, the Bellevue Police Department launched its own investigation into Schondelmeyer and later charged him with two counts of incest and two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child for alleged incidents involving the same children.