MACOMB COUNTY, Mich. (FOX 2) - A 46-year-old Macomb County man learned his fate Wednesday after he was convicted of raping a longtime friend's young daughter, all while maintaining his innocence.
Shane Chupa was convicted of two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, both of which carry a maximum life sentence, and one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony. The jury only deliberated for two hours.
He was sentenced Wednesday to 25 to 45 years for the first-degree counts, and about 10 to 15 years for the second-degree count. The sentences will run concurrently.
Prosecutors say Chupa was a longtime friend of the victim's father, living with the family in Clinton Township when she was just 5 years old. He lived with them again later in 2011, when she was between 8 or 9 years old, and that's when he sexually assaulted her.
Seven years later, at 15 years old, she told her aunt and a friend what happened to her. According to prosecutors, she reported Chupa took advantage of her when she was a child by digital penetration and rubbing his genitals against the young girl's genital area.
Trembling and speaking through tears, the victim's mother described the pain her daughter has gone through at Wednesday's sentencing.
"She's terrified of darkness. She has no trust in people. Once they get too close, she finds reason to push them away. Shane stole this from her, and he stole a normal childhood," she said.
All those years ago, they took Chupa in as a friend, but he quickly became like family, an uncle to her children, listening to them and hanging out with them.
"It was until last year that the facade was shattered, when (my daughter) was finally ready to share the pain that she had been carrying by herself all these years. Now I understand my daughter's actions and behaviors. I understand why she was struggling in school for years despite all the tutors, why she began harming herself, why she has a hard time with any type of relationship."
Chupa took his opportunity to speak, maintaining that he would never hurt a child.
"I'm an innocent man, falsely accused and wrongly convicted," he said.
He said he did not have a fair trial and the accusations against him are false, telling his friends and family: "Stay strong, don't lose hope. You know the truth."
"I am just grateful I know the truth. I've got God in my life and that's all I have to say."
In July, after the jury delivered a guilty verdict, Macomb County prosecutor Eric Smith commended the victim.
"We want to thank the jury for trusting this brave young girl who found the courage to come forward. Sex crimes are often the most challenging in the office. As a prosecutor, you are dealing with the most challenging of circumstances. Our Child Abuse Unit, along with St. Clair Shores PD did an outstanding job to ensure this defendant is behind bars."