Couple in court on sex abuse allegations

When Frederick and Mary Vonseydewitz were arrested earlier this week on multiple charges of sexual abuse of minors, it wasn’t the couple’s first encounter with police regarding those kinds of accusations.

A decade ago, Las Vegas police received an anonymous report that Frederick Vonseydewitz was molesting his stepdaughter. Because the victim denied the sexual abuse, no further investigations were made, authorities said.

After the 1999 investigation was closed, Frederick Vonseydewitz’s abuse of his then-underage stepdaughter escalated from molestation to forced penetration, according to a Las Vegas police report.

Frederick and Mary Vonseydewitz now face multiple counts of sexual abuse and lewdness involving minors. The two victims, a sister and brother, are now 20 and 22, respectively.

The two made the abuse allegations to police on Jan. 19. A police report states that the boy was sexually assaulted by his stepfather and mother from the age of 10 until he was 14 or 15. The girl was sexually assaulted several times by her stepfather at the age of 15, the report states.

In 1999, Clark County Child Protective Services received an anonymous tip that the daughter was being abused. At that time, Mary Vonseydewitz forced her daughter to go to Child Protective Services and “state that nothing happened,” the police report states.

In 1999, police investigated allegations that the daughter was molested, that her mother knew about the abuse and that the suspect, Frederick Vonseydewitz, kept child pornography on his computer.

Police conducted an interview with an involved party not named in the report, but “nothing further was investigated due to nondisclosure.” At the time, the victim denied the abuse occurred, a source familiar with the investigation said.

Las Vegas police spokesman officer Bill Cassell said there wasn’t enough evidence to proceed with the case 10 years ago.

“Now we certainly have sufficient evidence and we’re going forward with the prosecution of these crimes,” he said.

He would not discuss what that evidence is.

It’s common for sexual abuse victims to deny or recant abuse allegations, especially if it involves a parent, said Dr. Michael Levittan, a Los Angeles-based psychotherapist. Levittan has no direct involvement in this case.

He said victims will deny the abuse to authorities for several reasons, including fear of losing a parent or shame over the abuse.

The brother and sister in this case told police that both parents sexually abused them. The daughter also told police that Frederick Vonseydewitz started taking topless photos of her when she turned 15 and kept them on a home computer.

During a Jan. 26 interview with police, Mary Vonseydewitz, 48, admitted that she sexually abused her son, the report states. She also told police she believed the 1999 report was true.

Frederick Vonseydewitz, 44, told police during a Jan. 26 interview that his stepchildren have no reason to lie, according to the report.

The couple appeared briefly in court Thursday morning shackled and dressed in prison garb. Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Nancy Oesterle set bail for Frederick Vonseydewitz at $400,000. Bail for Mary Vonseydewitz will be set Tuesday.

Frederick Vonseydewitz’s attorney Richard Schonfeld said his client has no criminal history and should have been released on $75,000 bail, as in normal in such cases.

Chief Deputy District Attorney James Sweetin disagreed.

“This is not a standard case,” he said. “The nature of the case is horrendous.”

Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039.

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