A Maggie Valley man is going to spend at least 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexually abusing his girlfriend’s daughter for well over a year.

Matthew Mander was initially arrested on June 20, 2019, after being indicted on 10 felony sex offense charges. Then in August of last year, he was indicted on 37 more felonies.

On those indictments, it was noted that the offenses occurred between Feb. 1, 2018 and June 18, 2019. While most of the indictments were for statutory sex offenses, three alleged forcible rape.

On Feb. 2, Mander pleaded guilty to one count of statutory rape of a person 15 years of age or younger. Under the plea arrangement, so many charges were dismissed because they couldn’t all fit on the standard form.

“The defendant had called DSS and said to come get him,” Assistant District Attorney Kate Wrenn said in court.

Mander ended up giving a full confession to law enforcement but still had an aggravating factor — the fact that the was in a position of power or trust over the victim — when it came to sentencing.

Mander was sentenced to 240-348 months in prison, less 179 days of pretrial confinement. In addition, it was ordered that he have no contact with the victim or her mother, and he will have to register as a sex offender for the next 30 years.

Following the plea, Judge Letts spoke from the bench directly to the victim, who was in the gallery. He reminded her of her worth as a person, the long life ahead of her and the great potential she still has to lead a productive, fulfilling life.

“Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and it’s nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said, encouraging her to look forward beyond what she’d been through to try to find happiness.

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