One of the most gruesome and revolting legal cases imaginable came to a close this week as a judge sentenced 22-year-old Tessa Vanvlerah of Saint Louis, Missouri to two consecutive life sentences after she plead guilty to allowing a man she met online to rape her at-the-time five-month-old daughter on more than one occasion.
In addition to the statutory rape charge, Vanvlerah also pleaded guilty to statutory sodomy and incest after meeting with 47-year-old Cal State East Bay professor Kenneth Kyle several times at various hotels near her home where the couple engaged in sexual acts with each other as well as Vanvlerah’s 5-month-old daughter. Kyle was sentenced to 37-and-a-half years in prison and ordered to pay $50,000 to the victim after being found guilty of molestation in March.
Authorities first found out about Kenneth Kyle (mug shot above) after someone at his address used a computer to send 100 pornographic images of children to an FBI agent via a peer-to-peer file-sharing service, according to an affidavit filed by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Special Agent Michael Shan.
Kyle was out of the country when San Francisco police searched his home and confiscated his computers, on which they found “photographs of infants and toddlers being sexually abused by adults.” Kyle was stopped by customs agents after returning from a trip to Germany on March 19. Four days later authorities alerted St. Louis County detectives, who would later track down Tessa Vanlevah living in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin.
Vanvlerah’s defense attorneys tried to convince the judge in the case that their client had a dependent-personality disorder that caused her to participate in the acts even though she knew they were wrong.
From St. Louis Today:
Dr. Brooke Kraushaar, who was hired by defense lawyers Brent Labovitz and Kevin Whiteley, described Vanvlerah as “a passive offender” who was so afraid of being rejected by others that she also allowed Kyle to choke, burn and urinate on her.
The psychologist said prison time would put Vanvlerah at risk of getting into further trouble because of the dominant personalities there.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kathi Alizadeh argued that communicating with Kyle online demonstrated free will and also pointed out that Vanvlerah refused when Kyle once suggested bestiality. In addition, Vanvlerah could be seen smiling in photos with Kyle and her daughter.
Also, Alizadeh brought up the that police had discovered Vanvlerah had spoken with another man from Avon, Missouri who sent her child pornography and discussed coming to St. Louis to have sex with her daughter – something which the man did not act on.
As if this story couldn’t get any more horrible, a woman reportedly obtained a court order of protection against Vanvlerah, who was 18 at the time, accusing Vanvlerah of “seducing and having sex with the woman’s 16-year-old autistic son. According to Alizadeh, it resulted in Vanvlerah’s pregnancy.”
Vanvlerah was forced to give up custody of her daughter when she was charged in April of 2010. The daughter, now 3 years old, is living with her foster mother, who has since adopted her. In a victim’s impact statement the foster mother said bathing the child or changing her diaper initially would cause her to scream, and that she still suffers from night terrors. She also asks each and every night at bedtime to make sure that no one else comes in the house.
The tearful mother says the little girl is slowly getting better and “is no longer Tessa’s plaything and she is no longer Tessa’s child.”
Leaving aside the argument for capital punishment, if Vanvlerah’s consecutive life sentences means she will never, ever see the outside of a prison again, then that sounds about right. However, 37 1/2 years for repeatedly raping a 5-month old child seems downright offensive. There is no way in Hell someone convicted of that should ever be allowed freedom again.