Lawrence man to stand trial in sex crime case; woman describes being groomed for sex as a child

photo by: Journal-World File

The Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 E. 11th St., is pictured on Wednesday, April 8, 2020.

A Lawrence man was ordered to stand trial Friday in Douglas County District Court after a preliminary hearing at which a woman testified that the man had sexually assaulted her as a child.

The man, Dustyn Dwayne Polk, 47, acting as his own attorney, questioned the woman who has accused him of “grooming, molesting, then raping” her when she was 15 years old. He is charged with one count of aggravated criminal sodomy of a child, two counts of indecent liberties with a child and one count of indecent solicitation of a child, according to charging documents. The charges, filed in October 2021, relate to incidents that allegedly occurred between January 2009 and January 2010.

“I have spent a lot of time trying not to think about these incidents but, unfortunately, they are very vivid and have impacted me to this day,” the woman said when District Attorney Suzanne Valdez asked the woman why it took so long to tell police.

The woman said she had disclosed the abuse to her parents in letters she had sent from a “wilderness camp” the year after the incidents occurred but that camp counselors never sent those letters to her parents. She later told her parents about the incidents, but she was going through a tumultuous period and didn’t want to complicate her life further by pursuing charges, she said.

She described three incidents to the court. She said the first two incidents happened in Polk’s vehicle when he was taking her home after she had visited a person living in Polk’s house. On the first occasion, he pulled over near her Lawrence home and made her perform a sex act. The second time, Polk drove to the edge of town and made her have sex in the passenger seat of his vehicle, she said. The third time was in Polk’s house.

She said that Polk would often talk to her about adult topics that made her feel older than she was and that those topics eventually moved to sex. She said that they had regular sexual conversations via Facebook and that Polk eventually asked her to start using email instead. She said she did what Polk asked her to do out of a sense of obligation and fear.

Polk had few questions for the woman, including what type of car he drove when the incidents occurred and whether he asked her to use his Gmail account or his Yahoo account. The woman said she didn’t remember.

The hearing was interrupted multiple times as Polk, the witness and prosecutors attempted to talk at the same time.

As previously reported by the Journal-World, Polk is also facing additional charges from 2018 that allege abuse of a child that began when the child was 10 years old in 2015 and lasted through 2018. He is charged with three counts of rape, three counts of aggravated criminal sodomy and one count of aggravated indecent liberties with a child, according to charging documents.

According to an arrest affidavit, the girl in that case told police that Polk raped and molested her over several years, describing a number of incidents in detail. In speaking of one encounter, the girl told police that she had a “feeling of wrongness” and felt that she was an “evil person.”

When police interviewed Polk, he said that while he didn’t have a clear memory of the abuse, “he was sure” he had molested the girl, according to the affidavit. Investigators also wrote, “Dustyn called himself a monster several times and said he was sorry.”

Judge Sally Pokorny ruled Friday that there was sufficient evidence to order Polk to stand trial on the charges related to the incidents from 2009 and 2010, and she set a trial date of Jan. 30, 2023. Defense attorney Carol Cline will serve as Polk’s standby counsel. His trial for the 2018 charges is scheduled for Dec. 12, 2022.

Polk was granted the right to represent himself in April of 2022, according to court records.

He is being held at the Douglas County Jail on a $500,000 bond for his charges from 2018. If he makes bond in that case, he has a $50,000 bond for the other charges.