Lawrence man convicted of molesting mentally disabled girl

photo by: Mike Yoder

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St.

A Lawrence man was convicted on Thursday of molesting a mentally disabled girl.

Steven L. Capps, 39, pleaded no contest to two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties against the girl, who was 14 when the incident occurred.

Douglas County District Court Judge Sally Pokorny scheduled Capps’ sentencing for Nov. 15. She said he could face 142 months, or nearly 12 years in prison, though attorneys in their plea deal agreed to recommend 10 months less.

Attorneys said they believe Capps’ criminal history is low, with no felonies. He will be required to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and remain supervised for life after he’s released from prison, Pokorny said.

Capps was initially arrested in July and charged with two counts of rape and one count of aggravated criminal sodomy.

Another adult caught him in a room with the girl and immediately called police, Lawrence Police Department investigators wrote in an affidavit supporting Capps’ arrest, which the newspaper previously reported.

The girl used anatomical diagrams to show police what Capps did to her and “indicated she was not a willing participant,” according to the affidavit. Although the girl “had difficulty communicating due to developmental disabilities,” she was able to clarify and correct information while talking to police.

Interviewed by police the same day, Capps told them at the time that he removed the girl’s clothing and touched her inappropriately but denied raping her.

In entering his plea Thursday, Capps affirmed to the judge Thursday that he understood he was waiving his rights to a preliminary hearing and trial. When asked whether he’d told his appointed attorney, Hatem Chahine, everything he knew about the charges, Capps paused at length but then answered, “yes.”

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office has previously denied the Journal-World’s request for Capps’ mugshot. The newspaper requested it again after his conviction but did not immediately receive an answer as to whether it would be released.

Contact Journal-World public safety reporter Sara Shepherd