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High profile child molester allegedly beaten by accused murderer in Duluth jail

A Cloquet man convicted of sexually assaulting a preteen girl was sentenced to more than seven years in prison Tuesday, with his defense team asking that he be kept away from a high-profile murder defendant who allegedly beat him while in custody.

David Richard Lovshin, 36, pleaded guilty in August to second-degree criminal sexual conduct for molesting a preteen girl. He also entered an Alford plea -- in which the defendant claims innocence but admits the prosecution could probably prove the case -- on a first-degree sexual assault charge for attacking another preteen girl. In that case, Judge Eric Hylden ruled that St. Louis County prosecutor Kristen Swanson provided sufficient evidence to the court to support a conviction.

The mother of the second girl told Hylden that her

10-year-old daughter's reproductive system was severely damaged in the assault and that she may be unable to have children as a result. The court's acceptance of the Alford plea kept the girl from having to testify at trial.

"I wish I had the heart to put my daughter on the stand so you could hear the things that she told me,'' the mother told the courtroom of Lovshin, calling him a "hideous animal,'' and an "odious monster.''

Lovshin's public defender also related a story of a physical attack, saying Lovshin was severely beaten in the Douglas County Jail by Stephen Cobenais Sr., a defendant awaiting trial in a murder case.

Cobenais is accused in the West Duluth shooting death of Mario Highler, 31, on Aug. 26, 2009 -- an incident that included a five-hour armed standoff with Duluth police in the East Hillside.

Both men were being held in the Wisconsin facility because the St. Louis County Jail was full. Northeastern Minnesota Chief Public Defender Fred Friedman asked the court to request the Minnesota Department of Corrections house Lovshin and Cobenais in separate institutions if Cobenais is found guilty in the murder case.

According to court records in Lovshin's case:

Lovshin was already on probation for a 2005 criminal abuse conviction in which he initially was charged with sexually abusing a mentally impaired victim.

In the first-degree assault case, the victim's mother reported that a relative saw Lovshin take a 5- or 6-year-old girl into her bedroom. The relative then heard the girl crying loudly and screaming.

The girl was interviewed by St. Louis County Sheriff's Investigator Stephen Borchers at the First Witness Child Abuse Resource Center. She said she had been sexually abused by Lovshin on multiple occasions. She suffered great bodily harm and permanent disfigurement.

In the second-degree criminal sexual conduct case, Lovshin admitted having sexual contact with another 5- or 6-year-old girl while he viewed pornography on a computer screen.

Hylden sentenced Lovshin to 86 months in prison on the first-degree assault charge and 86 months in prison for the second-degree criminal sexual conduct conviction. The sentences will be served at the same time. The defendant will receive credit for the 523 days he has spent in jail awaiting trial.

Lovshin must register as sex offender and provide a DNA sample. He was ordered to have no contact with his victims or their families. If he follows prison rules, he can be released after serving two-thirds of his sentence followed by five years of conditional release.

Regarding the plea to keep Lovshin away from Cobenais, Hylden said he would enter the request with the Minnesota Department of Corrections.