A man from Gwinnett received a 35-year prison sentence for raping a 9-year-old relative multiple times, according to the Gwinnett County District Attorney’s Office.

Anthony Lee Seitz, 33, received a life sentence for which he must spend the first 35 in prison without the possibility of parole and the remainder of his life on probation. The District Attorney’s Office listed Seitz as being from the Hoschton area.

Seitz was arrested in November 2017 for multiple counts of rape. The DA’s office said the arrest came after an incident that happened in October, although the child’s mother had some concerns based on incidents she’d witnessed before that.

In late October 2017, Seitz was living in a trailer in Hoschton with the victim, her 4-year-old brother and the children’s mother. Prosecutors said an investigation revealed the victim’s mother asked a friend to make sure her daughter made it on the school bus on the morning of Oct. 30, 2017.

The family friend grew suspicious when Seitz and the victim were spending a long time in the victim’s bedroom. She walked in to find the victim clothed but in a compromising position.

When the friend questioned Seitz about it, she said Seitz acted “nervous” when questioned about why the two had spent so much time in the room alone, prosecutors said.

The family friend got the victim dressed and on the school bus before notifying police and the mother what had happened.

The DA’s office said the mother had suspicions of abuse months earlier, but her daughter denied Seitz had been abusing her when asked.

After the Oct. 30 incident reported by the family friend, the mother questioned her daughter again about Seitz, and the victim this time did not “give a strong denial” of the allegations. After the mother reassured the 9-year-old girl she wanted to get Seitz “some help,” the victim confessed he had raped her.

When Seitz was confronted by the child’s mother, prosecutors said he asked her, “How do you know, have you taken her to the doctor?” She then kicked Seitz out of the house.

The victim told Gwinnett County Police Special Victims Unit investigators that Seitz raped her five different times. The victim told detectives she did not come forward about the abuse because she didn’t want him to get into trouble, officials with DA’s office said.

Seitz’s attorney reportedly called an expert witness to confirm their “false belief” theory, a common defense theory that children sometimes develop false beliefs about an event that didn’t actually occur because they had been subjected to repeated or suggestive questioning by adults.

Prosecutors cross-examined the expert, who said that the victim was of above-average intelligence and had demonstrated on multiple occasions throughout her interview that she was resistant to suggestibility.

During his own testimony, Seitz denied ever sexually abusing the girl. But Seitz said during cross-examination that the victim does not lie and couldn’t explain what motive she had to make the story up about him because he had been the only consistent father figure in her life.

Michael DeTardo was the lead prosecutor assigned to the case. In handing down her sentence, Judge Tracey Mason noted that the facts of this case were “the most disturbing of any case she has presided over thus far.”

Mason also said that she was impressed with the victim’s resiliency and hoped her sentence would give her closure and allow her to move on.

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