Prison, probation for Germains
The young woman stood in front of Judge Douglas Bayley in court on Friday afternoon, shaking and holding back tears, recounting the ways her mother and stepfather failed her and abused her during childhood.
She said Heather Laverne Germain, actively used her to live vicariously through her. That Germain had failed to stand up during years of abuse by Michael Lowell Germain.
Heather and Michael Germain were in Goodhue County District Court for a sentencing hearing, having entered a plea in January for criminal charges filed almost two years ago.
Heather Germain, 51, Goodhue, was given five years of probation, a decision Bayley said was "against his better judgments" and that when he signed the plea agreement that he would "avert my eyes and sign off on this." Heather Germain admitted to neglect or endangerment of a child and fifth-degree drug possession.
Other charges were dropped.
Michael Germain, 45, was given 165 months in prison, with Bayley saying the case required a prison sentence, not a probationary one, for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Heather Germain was facing three first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, three third-degree criminal sexual charges, neglect or endangerment of a child, interference of privacy against a minor under the age of 18 and fifth-degree drug possession.
Michael Germain was facing three counts each of first, second, third and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and two interfering with privacy charges.
A plea was made on Jan. 24 for the two-year case to come to an end. According to a criminal complaint filed in April 2017, an underage female said she was being sexually assaulted and exploited by Michael and Heather Germain.
In further interviews, the girl, now a 20-year-old, said she was brought to the attic of a garage at 504 Fourth Ave. located across the street from the Goodhue Public School. The complaint states that she told investigators that Heather and Michael Germain "are 'swingers' and have a 'sex room' in the attic of the garage."
Authorities investigated and found the garage's upper level was only accessible through a door secured with an electronic lock. Authorities discovered three distinct rooms there, all separated by secured doors.
The vicitm said during the sentencing hearing that she was treated "as a human sex toy." She also said she's tried her best to move on, battling anxiety and depression as a result of the abuse.
In her closing, she said "F you" to Michael Germain, saying that he took advantage of a girl who couldn't defend herself. She again said "F you" to her mother for not standing up for her.
She gave her speech during Michael Germain's sentencing.
Derek Gahimer also speak during Heather Germain's sentencing. Gahimer said that his mother, Heather Germain, had the chance to stand up for what is right, but chose not to do so. He said she should be penalized with the full power of the law.
Gahimer said as a father of three, it's the parent's job to protect children at all costs.
The state of Minnesota asked Bayley to respect the plea agreement that had been discussed, with Heather Germain's defense stating they hoped she would receive probation for the two charges.
Heather Germain spoke on her own behalf during court, saying she was "truly sorry" and that she "wants to take responsibility for her actions."
The state was seeking a harsher punishment for Michael Germain because of the nature and length of the abuse. Heather Germain and victim lived with Michael Germain starting in 2010, when she was only 10 years old.
Ultimately, prosecutors asked for the maximum 172 months in prison for Michael Germain's.
The defense stated they wanted Bayley to consider a jail and probationary type sentence, keeping him in the community of family and friends that can support and help him.
Michael Germain said during his time to speak at court that he's "failed as father" and "sincerely regret the things that I have done."
Prior to issuing the sentence, Bayley said he was "very proud" of the victim's courage to speak in court. Bayley told her that he hopes that she continues not to let the situation define her and to seek help for the pain that she has endured.
Bayley said the sentence would involve prison and that, as he put simply, "You don't have sex with your kids." Bayley then sentenced him to 165 months in prison.
Michael Germain was taken into custody.
Both Germains had been out on bail since being charged.