KALKASKA — A Kalkaska man could face a life sentence for sex crimes against his stepdaughters.
Forty-Sixth Circuit Court jurors last week convicted Jim Sarten, 51, of 16 counts of criminal sexual conduct. Jurors took less than an hour to reach the verdict.
Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault said both victims — now 15 and 21 — were homeschooled and mostly isolated from the public as they endured years of abuse.
That changed when Michigan State Police in October began an investigation into a domestic violence complaint from the victims’ mother.
“It essentially created a situation where the children had to tell law enforcement,” Perreault said.
Both victims testified during the trial that Sarten began the abuse when they were 13 or 14 years old.
“It was our understanding based on testimony and information by the older sister that she stayed in the house to protect the younger sibling,” Perreault said.
The jury ultimately determined Sarten was guilty of nine counts of first-degree, six counts of third-degree and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. The trial ended a day earlier than scheduled.
Sarten’s attorney Thomas Seger could not be reached for comment.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 17 at 9 a.m.