By Logan Smith

GREELEY, Colo. (CBS4) – A Weld County jury convicted a Dacono man on six counts of child abuse and sexual assault on a child in what prosecutors are calling one of the most traumatic cases they’ve ever handled.

The jury returned its verdict against Dante Larks, 43, on Monday.

“This case, is by far, one of the most horrific and egregious cases that our office has ever seen,” Weld District Attorney Michael Rourke stated in a press release.

In that press release, the District Attorney’s Office explained how it developed the case against Larks following a domestic violence investigation that was initiated by the Dacono Police Department in December 2018. The DA’s Office opened the child abuse case early in 2019.

The child victim told Weld investigators that Larks locked the child in a home’s unfinished basement many nights over a period of several months. The child was let out for only a few hours a day, according to the DA’s Office, and at times was forced to go to the bathroom in a bucket in the basement.

Larks also threw peanuts down the stairs to the child. “That’s what the child would eat most days,” the DA’s press release stated.

Larks reportedly sexually assaulted the victim as well, approaching the child while the child was asleep in the basement and while he was in possession of a firearm, per prosecutors.

Dante Larks (credit: Weld County District Attorney’s Office)

“No child should ever experience the horror and trauma that this child will now have to live forever with,” Rourke stated. “This is why we do what we do each day. We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure monsters like this will never have an opportunity to harm another child.”

Larks’s trial lasted three weeks. He now faces a maximum penalty of 142 years in prison, according to the DA’s Office. He is scheduled to be sentenced July 11.

The case could have national implications.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time prosecutors have ever convinced both a judge and a jury that the impact and long-term damage that PTSD does to the brain can, and in this case did, create serious bodily injury,” Rourke added. “This is monumental as we move forward and prosecute other egregious cases like this one.”

Larks pleaded guilty to felony menacing with a weapon in the Dacono PD domestic violence case in July 2020. He was sentenced to 18mths in the Colorado Department of Corrections in that case.

 

 

Logan Smith