Skip to main content

‘I Hear Him Pacing on the Floorboards’: Victim Testifies at Sentencing of Colorado Man Convicted of Months of Sexual Abuse, Locking Child in Basement


Dante Larks appears in a mugshot

A Colorado man facing 142 years behind bars for locking a child in the basement and sexually abusing the victim for months got a 20-year break and was instead sentenced to 122 years in prison earlier this week.

Dante Larks, 43, was convicted on numerous charges of child abuse and child sexual abuse in May, including one count each of sexual assault with a deadly weapon, child abuse causing serious bodily injury, and two counts of sexual assault on a child over abuse by someone in a position of trust and pattern of abuse.

“This man is an absolute monster who deserves to spend every second, of every minute, of every hour, of every single day behind bars for the rest of his natural life for his (egregious) and horrific behavior,” Weld County Deputy District Attorney Arynn Clark said after the sentencing, according to the Times Call.

Larks first caught the attention of law enforcement over domestic violence allegations leveled against him in 2018. By 2019, the ensuing investigation led police in the tiny town of Dacano, Colo. to refer him to the county DA over potential child sexual assault and child abuse.

During trial, jurors heard evidence that Larks would lock the victim in his unfinished basement multiple times overnight over a period of abuse spanning several months in 2019. Prosecutors alleged – and jurors apparently believed – that the defendant only allowed his victim out of the basement for a few hours per day. The child in question, authorities said, was fed a diet of peanuts that Larks would occasionally toss down the stairs leading to the basement. The victim was also forced to use a bucket to go to the restroom.

When the child victim slept, they were often sexually assaulted by Larks, who typically threatened them with a gun during such acts.

“I still struggle with the sound of footsteps above me because I hear him pacing on the floorboards and wonder if tonight is the night he’ll be coming down the stairs,” the child in question said during a victim impact statement provided amongst many during the sentencing hearing.

Weld County arrest records reviewed by Law&Crime suggest that Larks had faced an escalating number of charges before culminating in the final charge in March of this year. Some 15 different charges were leveled against the defendant over the course of the case. Those records also indicate that he was charged with incest – suggesting the victim was a close family member. The identity of Lark’s victim, however, is not being made public.

“This case is by far one of the most horrific and egregious cases that our office has ever seen,” Weld County District Attorney Michael Rourke said earlier this year. “No child should ever experience the horror and trauma that this child will now have to live forever with.”

“This is why we do what we do each day,” the DA continued in that earlier press release. “We’ll do whatever it takes to ensure monsters like this will never have an opportunity to harm another child.”

Rourke also noted that the outcome in this case was a novelty in the Mile High State, at least in procedural terms.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time prosecutors have ever convinced both a judge and a jury that the impact and long-term damage that PTSD does to the brain can, and in this case did, create serious bodily injury,” the prosecutor said. “This is monumental as we move forward and prosecute other egregious cases like this one.”

[image via Weld County District Attorney’s Office]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime: