For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
The Washoe County District Attorney’s Office has announced that Thomas Goepner, 62, from Washoe Valley, has been sentenced to life in prison after he was previously found guilty at trial on multiple counts of sexual assault on a child. Goepner was sentenced earlier today in Washoe County District Court by Judge Jerome Polaha on 5 counts of Sexual Assault on a Child Under the Age of Fourteen Years, 3 counts of Sexual Assault on a Child Under the Age of Sixteen Years, 2 Counts of Sexual Assault and 1 count of Open and Gross Lewdness. He will not be eligible for parole until 175 years has been served.
Goepner was arrested in October, 2016 following an investigation by the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Crimes Against Persons Unit. The case began when WCSO patrol deputies responded to a report of a sexual assault. When deputies arrived, they met with a 16 year old female victim and several of her family and friends. The victim reported she had been sexually abused by Goepner since age 8 and that she had recently disclosed that abuse to others. Detectives responded and began an investigation in conjunction with the Washoe County Child Advocacy Center. Based on interviews with the victim and witnesses, as well as evidence collected from the defendant’s home, investigators determined that Goepner had been sexually assaulting the victim for over 8 years. During that time, Goepner forced the young victim to perform sexual acts on multiple occasions and threatened her so that she would not tell. Goepner was also convicted of having groped a second female victim. The investigation further revealed that Goepner was reported to have repeatedly sexually assaulted other child victims in the late 1980s. However, he was unable to be prosecuted because the crimes were reported after the statute of limitations that existed at the time had run.
During sentencing, Deputy District Attorney Peg Samples argued that consecutive life sentences would show support to victims and send a message that our community will not tolerate crimes against children.