A former Pierceton man was sentenced Thursday morning to six years in the Indiana Department of Corrections for sexual misconduct with a minor, a level 5 felony.

The sentence was the maximum that Kosciusko County Superior Court I Judge David Cates could give Steven Ray Slabach, 35, formerly of 5241 E. Washington Road, Pierceton, for the charge. The address listed in his jail booking Thursday was 24049 CR 46, Nappanee.

As part of a plea deal, a charge of child molesting, a level 4 felony, was dismissed.

Cates also ordered Slabach to register as a sex offender, pay a $500 fee for the sex offender registry, and pay for fines, costs and other fees. He also is to have no contact with his victim.

He could appeal his sentence in 30 days.

On Aug. 11, 2017, Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department officer Matthew Rapp met with an Indiana Department of Child Services caseworker, who said she learned Slabach was molesting a girl, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Aug. 14, 2017.

Rapp met with the victim, who said Slabach had been touching her inappropriately once a week from 2016 to Aug. 6, 2017, and the last time was Aug. 6. She said it always occurred in her bedroom at night.

Slabach admitted to Rapp he had been touching the minor for a while and he last touched her on Aug. 6, 2017. He said it gave him pleasure but he knew it was wrong.

Slabach had pleaded guilty June 14 to the sexual misconduct with a minor charge, but the sentencing had been continued until Thursday.

Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Brad Voelz read a letter that the victim wrote to the judge. The letter talked about how the molesting began and how long it went on. She wrote about it causing her problems sleeping and that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. She not only lost her childhood, but also her trust in people.

“I want justice. I want (Steven) to pay for what he did to me,” she wrote, asking Cates to give Slabach the maximum punishment possible as he needed to face the consequences of what he did to her.

Voelz acknowledged all the letters that were submitted in the case and said, “I will not try to characterize what this man has done because I can’t do it as well as these people have done.”

He said Slabach’s violation of trust was not limited to just the victim, but to all the family. Voelz said Slabach knows that the impact of his crime on the victim was greater than the punishment he will receive.

Slabach’s defense attorney, David Kolbe, said his client’s behavior was inexcusable and he would not try in any way to diminish the crime he committed.

He did argue that a mitigating factor in the sentencing was that the crime was not likely to occur again.

Slabach sought and is receiving treatment through the Bowen Center, and he will be on the sexual offender registry.

“He has accepted full responsibility on this count,” Kolbe said.

He asked Cates to place Slabach under the strictest of supervision instead of imprisonment.

Slabach apologized to the victim and the victim’s mother for the destruction he caused.

“It’s not acceptable,” he said. “I’m not OK with what happened. I don’t agree with all the facts that were laid out before me, but it was all horrible. I don’t want to be a destroyer. I want to give life. All I can do now is say I’m sorry.”