From: Platte County Prosecuting Attorney "Eric Zahnd"

Date: September 15, 2015

Subject: Seufert named Family Violence Hero of the Year

Assistant Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Seufert is a hero. Specifically, he is the Family Violence Hero of the Year, having received the award on September 2 at the annual awards dinner of the Missouri Association of Prosecuting Attorneys.

The Family Violence Hero of the Year Award recognizes a prosecutor, law enforcement officer, victims services representative, or other allied professional who has displayed extraordinary dedication to victim well-being and safety and perpetrator accountability. It specifically recognizes that child abuse, domestic violence, and sexual violence cases are particularly difficult to investigate and prosecute.

Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “Platte County is truly fortunate to have Chris Seufert working to protect our children. He has an incredibly successful record of prosecuting crimes against children, and his work to pass Constitutional Amendment 2 will help countless children for decades to come.”

Seufert has tried many cases in nearly a decade as a prosecutor, and he now serves as a trial team leader in Zahnd’s office. The award recognized his work against three defendants:

  • Fentress Wilson was charged and convicted by a jury of being a predatory sexual offender based on unadjudicated prior acts of child sexual abuse. Missouri’s predatory sexual offender statute is rarely used, particularly with respect to unadjudicated prior acts. As a result of Seufert’s work in unchartered legal territory, Wilson was sentenced to a mandatory life sentence and will not be eligible for parole until 2052.

  • Jason Wright repeatedly sexually abused a young girl. Because Seufert also charged Wright as a predatory sex offender—this time based on adjudicated prior acts--Wright was sentenced to life in prison with eligibility for parole after 160 years, or the year 2173.

  • Daryl Lemasters was convicted by a jury of multiple counts of Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree, Enticement of a Child, and Sexual Exploitation of a Minor of two girls. In addition to sexually abusing the girls when they were as young as five years old, Lemasters created child pornography of one of the victims. He was sentenced to 180 years in prison.

    Seufert said, “The real heroes are the kids who come forward, face their abusers and tell their stories. I am amazed by their courage every time. It is an honor to seek justice for the victims of these terrible crimes.”

Seufert was also recognized for his part in drafting Missouri Constitutional Amendment 2, passed in November 2014. The amendment permits evidence of prior criminal acts in child sex abuse cases.

Zahnd said, “Generations of Missouri children will no longer have to face their abusers alone because Chris Seufert recognized that Missouri law was deficient, and he set out to make sure the law was changed.”

Zahnd said, “Generations of Missouri children will no longer have to face their abusers alone because Chris Seufert recognized that Missouri law was deficient, and he set out to make sure the law was changed.”

But perhaps the best words about Seufert come from the caregiver of a girl abused by her father. She wrote this about Seufert following the trial:

[The girl] had her childhood stolen from her by the man who should have been her hero, her father. Fortunately . . . there was a superhero in her future with angel wings hidden under his cape. Chris Seufert was that hero. . . . Chris’s determination to get her justice and his unwavering confidence in her truth . . . gave back her life.

Above is a photo of Seufert, center, with Catherine Vannier, the family violence resource prosecutor from Jefferson City who presented the award, and Zahnd. If you need additional information, please contact our office’s media liaison, Jill Baker.

Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri  64079
(816) 858-3476
(816) 858-3472 (fax)