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Man sentenced in incest case

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Adolph Steven Bowman confers with his attorney, Tom Dyer, during a sentencing hearing Monday in Upshur County Circuit Court.

BUCKHANNON — A man who pleaded guilty to incest with his stepdaughter while his stepgranddaughter watched will spend five to 15 years in prison following his sentencing Monday.

Adolph Steven Bowman, 46, represented by Tom Dyer, had been indicted in the September 2019 Upshur County Grand Jury for five counts of incest, a felony; and displaying obscene matter to a minor, a felony.

Law enforcement said he had a sexual relationship with his stepdaughter, Nichole Zickefoose, 30, and Zickefoose’s juvenile daughter saw the couple have sex at one point. In December, Bowman pleaded guilty to one count of incest, a felony.

Zickefoose, who was indicted in the same term of the grand jury for five counts of incest, a felony; and displaying obscene matter to a minor, a felony, also reached a plea agreement and is scheduled to be sentenced today.

Prosecuting attorney Bryan Hinkle referenced the presentence report, and said, “Obviously, this is a very serious matter.”

Hinkle said he “could not get over the fact” of Bowman’s grooming of his stepdaughter to lead to a sexual relationship and then to have that sexual relationship in front of the stepgranddaughter.

“The excuses he gave do not make any sense to me — that he was doing it to show her what not to do,” Hinkle said.

The prosecuting attorney recommended five to 15 years incarceration with the maximum fine and supervision for sex offenders once released.

Dyer questioned Hinkle referring to the stepgranddaughter as a victim, but Hinkle said, “I think we are splitting hairs here. She witnessed the incest.”

The defense attorney then called on three witnesses including a coworker, Mike Pugh, who testified that Bowman was considered a good employee; and Bruce Depew, a long-time friend who testified that he had never observed Bowman engage in any type of illicit sexual conduct.

Bowman’s wife of 20 years, Sandy, took the stand last and said her husband was the sole provider of the home.

“He’s always been there for me; he has always provided for me; he has always treated me good,” she said. “If he gets incarcerated, we will lose the house, the vehicles, my dogs, everything.”

When she was asked about Zickefoose, Sandy Bowman said, “Nichole is my daughter and I love her. She comes to the house and cleans for me because I can’t.”

Hall then pointed to the terms of the bond which state Zickefoose and Bowman are not to have any contact with each other.

“She is not supposed to be there,” he said. “He is not supposed to be there while she is there. Why is this still going on?”

Sandy Bowman replied, “They are not left alone.”

But Hall reiterated, “This is not supposed to be going on.”

Sandy Bowman said Zickefoose leaves when her husband comes but then said her daughter sometimes stays for dinner.

“She usually comes when he is at work,” she said.

Sandy Bowman told the court she did not want to see her husband incarcerated.

“I need him right now financially and him being behind bars … I can’t … I will lose everything,” she said as she cried.

Dyer said, “Honestly, after 33 years and more than 8,000 cases this is truly one of the more peculiar cases from a personal, and as you can see, from an academic standpoint.”

He noted there were two consenting adults who were not related by blood involved.

But Hall pointed to the child witnessing the incest.

“If it was just two consenting adults, we may never have gotten here,” the judge said.

Dyer then said there were “significant consequences to the behavior as it pertained to the child,” but he referenced Bowman’s lack of criminal record, an exemplary work history and his caretaking of his wife.

“In my mind, this is a difficult case for the court to address,” Dyer said adding that Bowman was considered to be a candidate for placement in the community with a treatment plan.

“Other than seeing Ms. Zickefoose, he otherwise has been compliant with rules set forth for him and I have no doubt that will continue in the future,” Dyer said.

Dyer respectfully requested the court consider a sentence that still allowed Bowman to be there for his wife and her needs, earn an income and provide financially.

Bowman told the court, “I know that I done wrong. I know I hurt Sandy. I will spend the rest of my life trying to make up for that. I want to do that. I want to be there for her. I did not know it was a crime with Nicole and I have no intentions of every crossing that line again.”

Bowman said he had not spent one second alone with his stepdaughter since being arrested.

“Anytime she is there, I try to leave,” he said.

Hall said, “Mr. Dyer is right. This is an unusual case.”

He noted Bowman had some shoplifting cases pending in magistrate court but not any significant criminal record and that he had a good work history.”

But Hall noted that the incest didn’t begin when Zickefoose was 23 but went back years before that.

“The doctor opines in this report that you are a low risk to recidivate,” he said. “I don’t believe that. You offended on Ms. Zickefoose when she was a juvenile, reoffended when 23 and reoffended when you brought her child into it.”

“This court is going to find that it is impossible to filter out all the other facts in this case,” Hall said. “This incest occurred with this child watching. I can’t just take the fact that this child was present and ignore it. I’m unwilling to forget that this child watched this.”

Noting Bowman’s statement that he was doing that to show the child what not to do, Hall added, “My mind was blown by that type of statement. That was extremely disappointing to the court.”

“I can’t rule out the fact that this child had to watch this,” Hall continued. “I can’t let people do that to people in this community.”

The judge then sentenced Bowman to five to 15 years in prison but waived the discretionary fine. Bowman will be required to register as a sex offender for 10 years and be on supervised release following the completion of his sentence.

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