A Nebraska man has been sentenced to two years in prison for marrying his daughter and having sex with her, The Omaha World-Herald reports. His daughter, 21-year-old Samantha Kershner, also faces criminal charges.
Travis Fieldgrove, 40, met his daughter Samantha “about three years ago,” according to a February 2 Omaha World-Herald report. Before that, she didn’t know who her father was until she asked her mother to tell her about him and to arrange a meeting.
At first, their relationship was not unlike most father-daughter relationships, but for the fact that they’d been estranged for most of the young woman’s life. But by September 2018, their relationship had turned sexual. When questioned by police, neither Fieldgrove nor Kershner would say, specifically, when their relationship had turned sexual, but they did admit to having had sex on September 10 of that year.
Kershner also told police that she and Fieldgrove’s other daughter, her biological half-sister, were in a “competition” to see who could have sex with their father first.
Police became interested in the couple’s relationship because of an anonymous tip.
Fieldgrove said that he didn’t know that Kershner was his daughter because his name did not appear on her birth certificate. However, when police asked both parties to submit DNA for a paternity test, the results came back in January 2019 with 99.999 percent certainty that Fieldgrove was Kershner’s father.
Meanwhile, on October 1, 2018, the couple got married at a courthouse.
Initially, both Fieldgrove and Kershner were charged with one count of incest, which is a felony in Nebraska and carries a penalty of up to eight years in prison.
Fieldgrove’s attorney, public defender Jeff Loeffler, says his client is “not a high-functioning person” due to a brain injury, and also that Fieldgrove is “embarrassed” by the whole incident and “wishes it never happened.”
Loeffler negotiated a plea deal in which Fieldgrove pleaded no contest to attempted incest, a misdemeanor.
Hall County District Judge Mark Young sentenced Fieldgrove to two years in prison. He gave him credit for 121 days already served, which means that Fieldgrove will spend 144 more days behind bars. He will then be placed on 12 months of post-release supervision. He is forbidden from having contact with his daughter, Kershner.
In 48 of the 50 states, incest between consenting adults is a felony, according to The Harvard Law Review. The two states that don’t criminalize incest between adults are Rhode Island and New Jersey; in Rhode Island, a person is considered an adult, for the purposes of its incest laws, at 16. None of the 50 states allow for marriage between siblings or between parents and their children.