James Wallace Fall sentenced for sexually abusing 10-year-old niece while invoking Bible

James Wallace Fall, a 59-year-old man who claimed his religious beliefs made it OK to take his 10-year-old niece as a wife and then sexually abuse her for years, is likely going to spend the rest of his life behind bars.

He was sentenced today to 24 years in prison after pleading guilty last month to two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The girl, now 19, came forward last year, saying that Fall and his wife obtained custody of her and her siblings after their father died when she was 9 years old.

The first sexual assault took place when they went on a vacation to Yellowstone National Park in 2001, when, she said, Fall cited Biblical teachings to make her his wife. From that point on, she says Fall alternated spending nights with her and with his wife, and that his wife knew about the arrangement but did nothing to stop it.

The niece accused Rosemary Fall of threatening to kick the children out of their Mound home if the girl didn't submit to the abuse. (You can read the full criminal complaint alleging his depravity by clicking here. Be warned, it's pretty grim.)

From Rochelle Olson's report today in the Strib:

Fall's lawyer, David Risk, acknowledged the case was a difficult one for everyone, but he said his client never denied the abuse or denied that he should be held accountable. "He does have a different set of religious beliefs than most people espouse," Risk said.

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