A former foster parent was sentenced to 30 years in prison for sexually assaulting a boy he fostered on and off for four years.
George Steen was found guilty of three counts of sexual assault against a child Wednesday by a Lincoln County jury. The 41-year-old man admitted in court that he took showers with the boy but denied any inappropriate behavior.
The boy, now 11, said that the showers took place from the time he was 5 to 8 years old. The boy stayed with Steen at different times from 2005 to 2009.
While gripping a stuffed animal the child told jurors that he wanted to scream out for his foster mother but that Steen covered his mouth.
The boy testified that Jennifer Steen, George Steen’s wife, was never in the room when the molestation occurred.
Both Jennifer and George Steen took the witness stand for the defense Wednesday morning. Each of them said that George Steen took showers with the boy when there was a time crunch.
“The only time I took showers with him was when we were in a hurry,” he said.
Steen said that happened once or twice a week.
Jennifer Steen said that she sat on the toilet with a towel waiting to dry the child off each time.
Jurors not only listened to testimony from Steen, his wife and his accuser, they heard from a series of psychologists, social workers and the boy’s other foster parents.
The child’s other foster parents described inappropriate social and sexual behavior he displayed at a young age. One specialist said those instances pointed to a child who had been sexually abused.
Both Jennifer and George Steen said during testimony that they loved the boy and considered him part of their family.
The Steens met the child at New Vision Ministries, a Lincoln County church. Jennifer Steen worked at the church’s day care.
Not yet licensed foster parents, the couple took the child in when a fellow church member couldn’t handle the burden of all the children she was fostering.
The Steens started the process of becoming foster parents and earned their licensing.
They intended to eventually adopt the boy who later accused George Steen of sexual abuse.
Lincoln County Assistant District Attorney Beth Lari asked George Steen about his adoration for the boy during cross-examination.
Steen told her that he had an attachment to the child even when he was placed in other homes and facilities – keeping in contact with him, buying him gifts and attempting to get him back.
Steen was once ordered to take anger management classes after an outburst at the Department of Social Services offices when he couldn’t see the boy.
Lari also asked Steen why he thought the child would display behaviors of a sexually abused child.
Steen said the issue could have stemmed from a time when he left the boy at his mother’s house for a stay. Steen’s brother, Richard Steen, also spent the night.
Richard Steen, who had pending sex charges inTexas, slept in the same bed with the child. They slept in their underwear and the boy later reported inappropriate touching.
Steen’s brother was not convicted of the sex offense of which he was accused.
Like many children who have suffered sex abuse, the boy now expresses sexual predatory behavior.
Social workers told of two instances where the boy was involved in inappropriate sexual encounters with other boys – once in another foster home and once outside behind a shed.
The boy now lives in a facility for children who display such behaviors.
Steen had no prior sex charges.
Jury selection in the trial began Monday. Presentation of evidence kicked off Tuesday morning. By Wednesday afternoon Steen was led out of court by Lincoln County Sheriff’s deputies.
You can reach Diane Turbyfill at 704-869-1817 and twitter.com/GazetteDiane.