Fathers of Kessler Lichtenegger victims lobby legislators to empower institutions to keep known sexual predators away from potential victims

Jay Senter - March 20, 2017 11:55 am
Kessler Lichtenegger's 2015 booking photo from the Kansas Department of Corrections.
Kessler Lichtenegger’s 2015 booking photo from the Kansas Department of Corrections.

The fathers of the girls Prairie Village teen Kessler Lichtenegger assaulted before being sentenced to 17 years in prison on a charge of attempted rape are lobbying the Kansas legislature to pass laws they say could have kept their daughters safe from a known sexual predator.

The father of the two girls whose interactions with Lichtenegger at Westside Family Church in Lenexa led to his incarceration testified before a legislative committee in Topeka last week on Senate Resolution 1723, which seeks to identify early exposure to pornography as a public health hazard. In his written testimony, the man said that he believed Lichtenegger “became addicted [to pornography] and evolved into a seasoned sexual predator.”

In oral testimony, he argued that the state needed to consider legislation that would allow institutions — be they schools or churches — to take action to prevent know sexual offenders from having access to previous or potential juvenile victims.

“Juvenile offender or not, a convicted sexual predator should never be allowed to sit next to his prey in school or be allowed access to children in a church,” the man wrote after giving his testimony at the capitol. “I pray that someone in Topeka will take the initiative to draft legislation…that specifically addresses this issue.  Parents should not have to worry or worse – have no choice but to put their children in harm’s way.”

Those concerns were echoed by the father of the former Shawnee Mission East student with special needs who was assaulted by Lichtenegger in 2011 at Windsor Park on the afternoon of the Lancer Day Parade. Following Lichtenegger’s arrest in 2015, he and his family detailed the struggles they had getting the school district to help enforce the court’s no contact order between Lichtenegger and their daughter.

Today, he says he and the family’s attorney are looking into possible legal action against the district, though they believe the statute of limitation on the most relevant claims may have run out.

“We felt that the school district failed in their obligation to provide a free and unencumbered education to our daughter by not properly executing our IEP mandates to keep her away from Kessler,” he said. “They forced us to take her to alternative campuses at our expense. They refused to transport her to Shawnee Mission North. They consistently failed to prevent Kessler from being visible to [the victim]…They failed to enact any policy that addressed student-on-student violence, regardless of where it occurred. They failed to notify the general student population of his registered sex offender status.”

Both fathers say that the state needs to find a way to empower schools, churches and other institutions to keep known sexual predators away from young people vulnerable to attack.

“Please be certain that [we] are not the only ones affected and motivated to do something about allowing ‘known, convicted sexual predators unfettered access to our children in schools, churches, daycare, etc…,” the father of the most recent victims wrote in a message to legislators. “[These are] places where parents inherently and reasonably expect their kids to be SAFE. I genuinely believe that if someone…were to research, analyze and compare current Kansas law against Kessler Lichtenegger’s case history, it would reveal how the school, church, [and] court enabled him instead of empowering, requiring and holding them accountable for effectively deal[ing] with him. Where did they go wrong? Why? How? What needs to be done?”

Lichtenegger, now 20, is currently incarcerated at the Ellsworth Correctional Facility. His earliest possible release date is Nov. 11, 2029.

It's your community. Make sure you're informed

No one else provides as much coverage of our community as the Shawnee Mission Post. Make sure you understand the issues affecting our area by becoming a subcriber today!

Subscribe for access to comments section