Man Convicted of Rape of a Child of a Third Grader

Prosecutors in DA Charme Allen’s Child Abuse Unit obtained convictions against a man who sexually assaulted an eight-year-old child.  Erik Courtney Lehto, 53, was convicted of two counts of Rape of a Child, Solicitation of Rape of a Child, and Aggravated Sexual Battery.  Judge Kyle Hixson set the case for sentencing on May 20.

In a three-day trial, Assistant District Attorneys Jordan Murray and Rachel Lambert explained to the jury that in January 2019, the victim was at her elementary school when a school counselor was talking to students about “good touches and bad touches.”  At that time, the victim disclosed that she had been abused for several months by Lehto.  Investigators with the Knoxville Police Department responded to the school and began interviewing witnesses.  The victim was forensically interviewed at Childhelp Tennessee where she disclosed that Lehto sexually abused her on multiple occasions when she was eight years old in the third grade.  While awaiting trial, Lehto cut off his GPS ankle bracelet and was apprehended by U.S. Border Patrol agents near the Mexico border.

“Thanks to the hard work of everyone involved in this case, this offender will never be able to hurt a child again,” said DA Charme Allen. 

Rape of a Child is a Class A felony that carries a punishment of twenty-five to forty years in prison without the possibility of parole.  Aggravated Sexual Battery is a Class B felony carrying a punishment between eight and twelve years in prison.  At sentencing, prosecutors will seek the maximum sentence to ensure Lehto spends the rest of his life in prison.

If you have any questions, please contact Sean McDermott at 865-215-2515 or [email protected]. For more information about the District Attorney’s Office, visit our website at dag.knoxcountytn.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.