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HOUSE OF HORROR: Disturbing teen abuse case in Whitley Co.

July 12, 2013

A confessed child molester, Dean Pressler, admitted in court Monday to sexual crimes in this residence, located at 4721 W. Lincolnway, between Columbia City and Larwill. As part of a plea agreement, crimnal confinement charges in the home were dropped. The house is one of several locations in the Whitley County area that Pressler sexually abused a teenage girl, according to police case reports. Post & Mail photo / Nicole Ott

LARWILL — Doors chained. Windows nailed shut. A teenage girl gives birth to two children — all before the age of 18.

It sounds like a Hollywood horror movie — but it’s not — it’s the atrocious story of a child who lived unnoticed in the Whitley County area for five years.

After the perpetrator, Dean Pressler, 40, pleaded guilty in court to child molesting, child seduction and sexual misconduct with a minor this week, many are questioning how such a horrific crime could go unnoticed in a small Indiana town.

But how does one inquire about the unknown?

According to law enforcement case reports, the victim, who was 12 years old when she met Pressler, was made a “prisoner” in her own home.

Pressler was the victim’s mother’s boyfriend at the time, but after a “short-lived” relationship due to the mother’s “serious drug habit,” the mom moved out and left Pressler with custody of the child.

“It wasn’t legal custody,” Whitley County Prosecutor Matt Rentschler said. “They signed a pseudo-legal document that purported to give Mr. Pressler some rights, and that was the end of the mother’s involvement.”

Leaving the victim in Pressler’s custody may have been more of a blessing than a burden to the victim, as case reports state the mother forced her daughter, 11 years old at the time, to perform sexual acts on adult men in exchange for drugs.

Law enforcement is pursuing possible criminal charges against the mother of the victim.

On the move

After Pressler took custody of the girl, she nearly became a ghost to the public eye — living in five different homes in five years and attending three middle schools — two in Noble County.

To read the rest of this story, see the July 13-14 issue of The Post and Mail. Don't have a subscription? Call (260) 244-5153 or subscribe to our e-edition. For breaking news, sports updates and additional coverage, bookmark the homepage and find us on facebook and twitter.

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