For obvious reasons, the victims name (and the names of other relatives) have been changed.
The victim, teenage Maria from Sacramento, is the oldest daughter in a family of immigrants from Kazakhstan. Maria lived in a house with her mother, father, siblings, and her grandmother who had suffered multiple strokes and was being cared for by Maria’s family. Her grandfather, retired pastor Victor Miroshnichenko, lived separately and from time to time he visited the home of his daughter’s family, where his sick wife resided as well. In October 2016, the victim’s mother found her father in the children’s bath, right after he had oral sex with her child. The parents called the police right away and to their horror, it was revealed that similar situations had happened in the child’s life no less than a couple dozen times.
Victor Miroshnichenko, 67, has been found guilty of 2 counts of sex acts with a child under 10 and 8 counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child under 14 years old.
During a conversation with law enforcement agents, the girl stated that her grandfather kept a pink vibrator in his suitcase which he periodically gave her, asking her not to show anyone. He himself would sometimes ‘pleasure’ his granddaughter. One day, Miroshnichenko went to get a pizza with Maria, bringing her along as a translator as he did not speak English. On the way back to her home he stopped by his apartment where amongst other ‘adult’ toys, he showed her a cone-shaped vibrator.
“He often gave it to me when I was in the bathroom,” the victim testified – “sometimes he did it to me himself… He would place it against my intimate areas and massage them… He also showed me obscene videos.”
Pornographic books found in Miroshnichenko’s apartment
After receiving a search warrant, detectives discovered a black suitcase matching a description previously given by the victim which did indeed contain objects for sexual purposes. In addition to the previously mentioned vibrator, detectives found various intimate gels and lubricants, products for male enhancement, penile rings, a copy of the “Illustrated Kama Sutra”, and various pornographic books in Russian, English and Spanish. Also seized during the search was a book titled “Eros Defiled: Christianity and Sexual Sin”.
The corruption lasted roughly 2 years
According to the girl, Miroshnichenko taught her sexual terms in Russian since he did not know them in English. The victim also described how on some occasions, her grandfather would “touch his lips and hands to my intimate places”.
“Whenever someone knocked on the bathroom door when we were in there together, he ordered me to hide in the shower,” the victim shared.
It was precisely during one of these times that the girl’s mother discovered Miroshnichenko leaving the bathroom still occupied by her daughter and immediately called the police.
According to court records, there is no evidence of him sexually assaulting any other family members, although at least one other relative shared their suspicions regarding another child during the investigation.
It all started when Maria was in 4th grade (9 or 10 years old). They met so he could work on her ‘education’, during which he would describe the purpose of certain body parts and simultaneously groom the child. Miroshnichenko carried out his sordid fantasies numerous times in places such as the victim’s parents’ bedroom, children’s bathroom, in the car, garage, garden, her bedroom, and where she did her homework.
Sex toys found in the former pastor’s closet
The ex-pastor skillfully deceived everyone around him, going to great lengths to conceal his perverted sexual obsessions; sexual trysts with his granddaughter occurred in extreme secrecy and not one of her relatives had a clue what was going on. He even developed a special code – a knock that he taught to Maria, so she could distinguish between him and others. According to the girl, Miroshnichenko insisted that she never tell anyone about their games because if anyone was to find out, he would not be able to visit his sick wife anymore.
“He touched my intimate areas with his mouth while massaging me with his fingers,” Maria told investigators. “In his car he would show me (indecent) books when nobody was around.”
According to the girl, the last incident happened on Sunday before his arrest. Undeterred by the fact that almost the whole family was home, he snuck into the girl’s bedroom while she was doing homework and started showing her an adult video. When the victim went to the bathroom, Miroshnichenko rushed in after her, locked the door, took of his granddaughter’s underwear and began sexually assaulting her, “gratifying” her with oral sex.
Maria’s mother, sensing that something was wrong, knocked on the bathroom door asking if Maria was there. Miroshnichenko quickly hid her in the shower and answered that she wasn’t there. The victim’s mother did not believe her father and right after he left the bathroom, she walked in and found her child. This is when the grandfather had some rather unpleasant questions to face.
Miroshnichenko pleads guilty and threatens suicide
While located in the Sacramento County Prison, Miroshnichenko indirectly admitted that his saliva was present on the victim’s body during a conversation with one of his relatives. “Who put me here, Alexey?” Miroshnichenko asked his visitor. The person replied, “No. They went to the hospital and from there everything took its own course.”
“I told her, go to the doctor if you don’t believe me. I didn’t touch her, and I never thought of touching her”, said the former pastor.
“They say you…they found saliva”, the visitor informs him.
“Well, saliva, maybe. They took my saliva here”, – answers Miroshnichenko.
From a different audio recording, which was secretly recorded by the mother and father of the victim, it seems that Miroshnichenko apologized to the victim and her family and “thanked” the mother for spreading the shameful news throughout the USA.
“I came to apologize. Why, why’d you broadcast this all over America…Thanks for the concern, for doing this to me. Well done. I, on my side, am guilty, I’ll admit. Forgive me, please. For everything”, Miroshnichenko stated during the conversation.
“For what?”, one of the parents tries to clarify.
“Well, for touching your daughter”, he continues.
“Where did you touch her, how did you touch her, tell me”, the other voice on the recording asks for details.
“Ha, unbelievable! Anything else you’d like?”, mocks the former pastor.
Afterwards, Miroshnichenko goes off on a lengthy tangent condemning his daughter for the fact that he raised the whole family and brought them to America and she repaid him with ungratefulness.
“You dishonored me, named and shamed me all over the US. Thank you for that. This is exactly why I raised you, brought you to America, saved you from all the adversities that were happening there. And this is how you decided to repay me. Disgraced me, tarnished my name. Then you threatened to put me in jail,” complained Miroshnichenko about his fatherly woes. “I didn’t touch your girl. Her virginity is still there.”
“If you want to put me behind bars – go for it. I’m not going to go there, I’m all sick and there’s nothing for me there. They have found cancer, a tumor, my urinary tract hurts, my prostate… Better if I’ll be done with life”, says Miroshnichenko, further threatening to “inject a couple of ccs of air into his veins”.
During his conversation with the victim’s mother, Miroshnichenko claims that he was manipulating the child in order to test himself for impotence.
The episodes of abusing the girl could have been up to 100 times
“I went to a urologist, had a check-up. He says, ok. [inaudible] I got for free. Because it’s not working down there. I checked my feeling, to see if I have any or not. Seemingly, there are none. As for your girl, I didn’t harm her anywhere, and wasn’t going to harm her. The only thing I did was check to see if I still had feeling. Forgive me, please. You can tell your sweetheart that I regret what I did, I’m guilty, forgive me. You can tell your girl that my actions were wrong.”
The former pastor then leads the conversation down another direction and starts regretting, in retrospect, that his parents never taught him anything regarding relationships between the sexes.
“If my father or mother, or anyone at all, had taught me, I would have lived differently. I regret that nobody taught me. And now, it is your time to teach but you are not teaching,” – Miroshnichenko starts reasoning about the habits of younger generations. “I’m asking you, did mom ever tell you about this? No, she didn’t. I told her – you could be raped… (I was) teaching your daughter… I did not bring any harm upon her. (I) just gave her healthy advice.”
The episodes of abusing the girl in the bathroom had allegedly happened dozens of times. The victim had a hard time remembering the exact number of times it happened at all but in a conversation with an investigator, she reported that it could have been up to 100 times.
During the trial, questions arose regarding just how impartial the victim was, and just how honest her motives were. All doubts expressed toward the girl’s credibility were promptly dropped during judge and jury deliberations.
“The court found that the evidence disclosed by the victim to her aunt, parents and police remained consistent throughout with only minor changes. There was no indication of unreliability in the victim’s psychological state and her description of the sexual acts that took place were considerably more detailed than that expected from a child her age. Lastly, the victim had no motive to lie.”
The results of the DNA analysis between the male and the victim matched
After Miroshnichenko was arrested, a saliva sample was taken for DNA testing. The analysis revealed that his DNA matched with the DNA found on the victim’s body.
In October of 2016 Maria underwent a pediatric examination for sexual assault at the BEAR Medical Center in Sacramento and had another follow up exam shortly after. During the exam swabs were collected along with the clothes Maria was wearing during her last sexual assault. All items were sent to the Sacramento District Attorney’s crime lab.
Based on the injuries viewed during the visual BEAR exam, follow up exam and photo review, the medical panel made an “indeterminate finding: a finding in which the etiology cannot be determined between sexual abuse/trauma and other causes based on current research and clinical practice.”
On December 5, 2016, the criminological laboratory of the Sacramento district prosecutor’s office prepared a report on the DNA analysis from the swabs and clothing samples taken from the victim in October of that year. From the evidence collected, a partial minor DNA profile was developed in addition to Maria’s DNA profile; they also found amylase. Amylase is an enzyme found in bodily fluid; a high level of amylase can indicate the presence of saliva.
Once the Defendant’s buccal swab collected, the Sacramento District Attorney Crime Lab developed his profile for comparison to the minor contributors found from swabs collected from the victim. On March 3, 2017, the lab released its report finding the partial minor DNA profile was consistent with the reference profile for the Defendant, occurring at random among unrelated individuals at 1 in 300 thousand of the Caucasian population. The victim’s mother voluntarily submitted to a buccal swab for DNA profile comparison and was ruled out as the partial minor DNA profile contributor.
The victim did not disclose what was going on to her parents for a long time. She was obeying her grandfather’s orders not to tell anyone as well as scared of her parent’s reaction. During the child’s conversation with her parents after the bathroom incident, it was made clear that Miroshnichenko showed his ‘intimate place’ to his granddaughter, and throughout their ‘games’ he would either turn off or turn away the video cameras that were installed in the house.
In October of 2016, the victim’s mother took her father’s phone and discovered pornographic images in it. Within 10 days after the last incident in which the man showed his granddaughter lewd videos, he was arrested by the police. Technical specialists did not find pornography on the seized smartphone.
During the trial, the girl was provided with a social worker, as well as accompanied by a poodle named Reggie who helped with her psychological therapy.
The activities described above happened from April 2015 to October 2016.
Sentence and appeal
Miroshnichenko’s defense team warned the court that Maria’s statements should be perceived with a great deal of doubt contending that she is a ‘master manipulator’ and that her testimonies have a few holes in them. For example, during one testimony she states that grandpa never let her take the vibrator home, and during another that he did allow her to take it with her and even advised her to hide it from her parents. On one occasion, the girl said that first grandpa started molesting her and only after that did he show her lewd videos; on a separate occasion, she states that it happened in reverse.
Moreover, the defense inquired as to why the video surveillance system installed in the house did not record any suspicious activities.
During the jury deliberation, however, all 12 members of the jury unanimously and ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ found Viktor Miroshnichenko guilty of ten charges. As for the other 6 charges, the jury did not reach a unanimous decision which means that the defendant will not be convicted for those charges.
“The defendant is a rapist. He irrevocably changed his granddaughter’s life and the lives of her family members through his victimization of Maria,” was said in the conclusion of the prosecution in Sacramento. “The gravity of these crimes will follow Maria her whole life. He was entrusted with her education and he betrayed that trust.”
The court sentenced Victor Miroshnichenko to two life sentences (15 years + 15 years to life in two cases of oral sex with a child), another 8 years in an additional case of oral satisfaction, and 2 years for each of the seven other incidents, including the use of a vibrator in sexual activities with a child. The defendant received such severe sentencing in large part because of, according to the words of Judge Laurel White, he “so slyly took advantage of the trust” of a person close to him.
In addition, the offender will also have to pay a fine as well as court and prison costs totaling $2,200. If he is released, the Kazakhstan native will be required to join the federal sex offender registry.
As Miroshnichenko’s lawyer stated, Victor was pastor of Bethany Slavic missionary church until 2014. He asked the court to take that into consideration, as well as his defendant’s ill health and hard life.
The defendant’s family have stated their intent to appeal the decision made by the Sacramento Court.
The former pastor is serving his sentence in the Deuel Vocational Institution, a prison next to the Northern California city of Tracy (San Joaquin County), an hour south of Sacramento. Prior to this, Miroshnichenko was detained in the Sacramento County Prison with a bail of $6 million. The 582 days that he served there were credited to his overall sentence. Any meetings with his granddaughter during prison visits are strictly forbidden.