Guilty as charged. -

Guilty as charged.

I had a hard time sleeping Thursday night.

The St. Louis County jury considering 12 charges against Lester "Jay" Krupp began their deliberations around 7 p.m. At midnight, I lay there in my bed not knowing if they had wrapped up for the night or were pushing through into the small hours of a new day.

The clock on my cel phone said it was ten minutes past midnight.

No texts. No missed calls.

More tossing. More turning.

And then exaustion overtook me.

I must have been asleep for no more than an hour when my phone lit up and vibrated across the night stand. Krupp's attorney spoke from the other end of the line.

"Guilty," he said.

Then I slept like a log.

We've been following the story of Jay Krupp extremely closely since January, 2005.

Photojournalist Steven Harris and I interviewed victims in Chicago, southern Illinois, central Missouri and west St. Louis County. Young women in California, Wyoming, Florida, the Ozarks and all over the metro area spoke with us off-camera. In total, more than a dozen women came forward with stories too similar to be coincidence.

Woman after woman told us how Krupp would talk of his big connections in the modeling world. He would invite them to photo shoots in his home or hotel room. That's where they said Krupp would ply them with alcohol and coerce them into undressing.

Then he would make his move.

The twelve men and women who made up Krupp's jury heard tesitmony from only two of his victims, but that ultimately proved to be enough.

The jury found enough evidence to convict on six of twelve charges -- all various forms of sexual assault.

At seven years per count, Krupp faced a potential sentence of 42 years in prison.

Instead, he and his lawyers made a deal for 15 years -- if Krupp would plead guilty to charges involving a third woman, sparing her the agony of testifying about the horrible things of which she was a victim.

Just before 1 p.m. Friday, Judge Colleen Dolan accepted the sentencing deal and put the case to rest.

A sheriff's deputy ripped open a velcro pocket on his belt and removed a clanking metal set of handcuffs.

Krupp extended his arms forward and stared blankly as the cold steel bracelets clicked closed around his wrists.

"Do you need him anymore," the deputy asked Krupp's lawyer.

"No, he's done," the lawyer replied.

Done, indeed.

The victims I knew as scared and scarred young women smiled sighs of relief.

Their families hugged each other. They hugged prosecuting attorney Joe Dueker. Outside the courtroom, three jurors waited around to hug the young victims.

Lester "Jay" Krupp will be in the state's custody until 2023. He will be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.

End of story.

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