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Superior man faces 20 years in federal prison

Kevin Murphy

For the Superior Telegram

MADISON — A Superior man who transported a 14-year-old girl from Virginia to Superior in 2015 and subjected her to physical, psychological and sexual abuse received the 20-year maximum sentence Wednesday in federal court.

Peter Diehl, 33, used the internet to contact and groom vulnerable young girls into having sex with him, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie Pfluger. Diehl was not sentenced for a previous similar offense involving an Illinois girl, and he was "setting up" a Minnesota girl by phone while he had the Virginia girl with him in Superior, she said.

After returning with the girl in August 2015, Diehl put a dog collar and leash on her and threatened to brand her. A branding iron was found at Diehl’s residence.

Diehl had the "delusional goal" of starting a family with the Virginia teen, Conley said, giving her a pregnancy test and pre-natal vitamins during the month they were in Superior.

The victim’s mother traveled from Virginia Wednesday to tell Conley that Diehl sought out her daughter when she was vulnerable, depressed and just recovering from spinal surgery. He left the state with her and for five weeks; she did not know where her daughter was. When the victim called her mother, she was too frightened of Diehl to say much.

"He’s a sadist," the daughter told her mother who is not being identified so as not to identify the victim.

The call showed up on the mother’s caller ID. She gave the number to authorities who linked it to Diehl, said Pfluger.

Diehl pleaded guilty in February to two counts of possession of child pornography. The defense agreed not to argue against a sentence of less than 20 years. The victim’s mother told Conley the charges do not reflect even a third of harm Diehl did to her daughter.

"I hope you never have the opportunity to sexually torture another teenaged girl," the mother said.

Diehl was allowed to plead to the possession charges in order to spare the girl from having to testify in court, Conley said.

Diehl said he accepted full responsibility for his crimes, "and I know I’ll have to live with it the rest of my life."

"I’m working on changing things so this will never happen again," Diehl told Conley.

Diehl’s attorney asked for a 10-year sentence saying it was sufficient time to punish him and protect the public.

Conley could not disagree more.

He called Diehl a "danger to the community," especially to girls and young women.

"You’re a dangerous, manipulative predator of children and absent treatment you’re likely to remain a danger to prepubescent girls," Conley said.

The images found on Diehl’s phone of the 14-year-old were "frightening sadistic," Conley said. Pfluger called them "the worst I’ve ever seen," and raised concerns about Diehl’s ability to overcome his predilection for underage girls.

Diehl faces child abduction and repeated sexual assault of a child charges in Douglas County Circuit Court. Conley made Diehl’s federal sentence to run concurrent with any sentence imposed in Douglas County for offenses involving the same victim.

Peter Diehl