A Washington state man received double the maximum sentence Thursday for what amounted to the internet rape of a 13-year-old Lake Elmo girl.
Cheyenne Cody Vedaa Foster, now 20, agreed to a 29-year prison sentence and asked for forgiveness in the Washington County courtroom in Stillwater. He pleaded guilty in April to persuading the girl, via online chats and video conferencing, to abuse herself sexually, resulting in physical injury.
The charges branded Foster as a serial online predator. His decision to plead guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct — typically defined as rape — was all the more unusual, given that he committed the crime via the internet.
“It burns me inside to think of what I’ve done, of who I hurt,” Foster told District Judge Mary Hannon.
The conviction came after the girl’s parents contacted her school, leading to an extensive police investigation into Foster’s online grooming of young girls to perform sex acts for him.
“The defendant never met the victim, but this is the computer age,” Washington County prosecutor Imran Ali said in court.
“I think it’s revolutionary,” Stillwater police Sgt. Jeff Stender said of Foster’s conviction, noting a sharp rise in internet sex crimes. “This is the future of prosecution.”
Every parent’s nightmare
The online slave-master relationship Foster admitted to cultivating with the girl included an order that she attempt suicide for his sexual gratification. He instructed her to address him as Sir, Master or Daddy; her name was Kitten.
Ali said the victim was emotionally vulnerable and that Foster’s crime was “committed with particular cruelty,” which included circulating videos of the girl’s sex acts to other girls.
Public defender Nathan Sosinski described the diminutive Foster as intelligent but “socially inept,” using the internet to establish social contacts after spending most of his youth in home schooling.
“I just want a chance to pay for what I’ve done and move on,” Foster said at the sentencing.
The judge admonished him to change before he’s eligible for supervised release from prison, just before he turns 40.
“It’s going to take work on your part. There have been some serious flaws in your development that need correcting,” Hannon said.
Foster, of Arlington, Wash., will spend at least 19 years in a Minnesota prison. Sosinski said Foster also has been charged with internet crimes involving children in Virginia.
The girl wasn’t in court during Thursday’s sentencing. But her father read a statement describing “every parent’s worst nightmare — our 13-year-old daughter was in the complete control of an individual, caught up and trapped in an emotional black hole.”
Before they notified police, the girl’s parents talked with Foster directly and asked him to stop. When he didn’t, they spoke with Foster’s father for help. But the contacts between Foster and the girl continued over phones and electronic devices belonging to her friends.
“He truly is a monster, he truly is evil, and he truly is a threat to every young girl who reaches out through the internet to talk to someone,” the father said in court.
Foster instructed the girl to follow a set of rules that were “dark, sexually explicit and sadistic in nature, involving the use of pain,” the father said.
Stender said that children today are at a higher risk from strangers online than in person, and he said parents should educate themselves on applications downloaded to phones.
In Foster’s case, the girl was communicating with him through the instant messenger app Kik, which Stender said can be a gateway to pornography.
Stender and Ali said the girl’s parents took all the right precautions when they allowed their daughter a phone, such as warning her about strangers on the internet and adding safety measures.
Once police learned the extent of Foster’s predatory behavior, “there was a high fear this girl was in physical danger,” Stender said. “Crime online is going to be far more prevalent.”