A judge Thursday sentenced a 39-year-old Lincoln man to prison for 50 to 60 years for sexually assaulting a young girl, telling him what he did can't be undone.

Daniel L. Graae pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual assault of a child.

In brief comments, defense attorney Jon Braaten asked the judge to consider the fact that Graae had entered a plea to avoid the victim having to go to court.

But Graae's prior record is what it is, he said.

"The reality is there is nothing we can say today that changes anything," Braaten said.

Deputy Lancaster County Attorney Charles Byrd said Graae had a previous felony child abuse conviction for a blow to a 1-month-old's head because the child was crying. The child was left with a skull fracture.

He also had three other misdemeanor child abuse cases, Byrd said.

The latest allegations came out after Graae grabbed the victim's breast in front of a witness, the prosecutor said.

The girl ultimately told a therapist she was being sexually assaulted and it was reported to Lincoln police in February. Investigators say the abuse had been going on for nearly two years, according to court documents.

At sentencing, Byrd said while Graae had pleaded guilty, he hadn't accepted full responsibility for his actions. In a report to the judge, Graae called it an isolated incident. But he'd previously admitted to police it happened "maybe three times."

The girl said it happened often.

Byrd said the denial of the extent of the abuse makes him a greater risk to reoffend.

Lancaster County District Judge Kevin McManaman said Graae had shown some degree of remorse, but he failed in his duty to protect the girl.

The judge said the victim has courageously been able to describe the abuse and seems to have gained strength from the heroic people who have come in to help her.

Still, it's going to take a long, long time for her to recover, McManaman said.

"What you did can't be undone," he said. "But I think we all hope that in time she can heal and go on and lead a happy life, despite the most selfish actions (by you)."

Graae will have to serve 32½ years before he's eligible for parole and another five years if he doesn't. He also will face lifetime community supervision.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7237 or lpilger@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LJSpilger.




Lori Pilger is a public safety reporter.

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