A St. Louis County man convicted of nine counts of rape involving eight teen girls was sentenced to 16 consecutive life sentences on Thursday after victims testified about the years of pain he caused.

One mother who took the stand said her daughter was 13 when Dominic Yocco contacted the girl through the social media app Snapchat, picked her up from a St. Charles County home and raped her. The girl, who once dreamed of getting on the Disney Channel and “American Idol,” was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. She died by suicide before the case went to trial, so her accusations were not part of Yocco’s conviction.

“She was a little girl who had not even had her first kiss,” the mother said on the stand. “It broke my heart. I couldn’t fix it for her. I couldn’t protect her.”

St. Louis County Judge Ellen Ribaudo sentenced Yocco to 16 life sentences with eligibility for parole in 83 years.

Yocco was convicted by a jury in September of nine counts of rape, six counts of sodomy and one count of attempted sodomy. He was acquitted on two counts of statutory sodomy. He was eligible for a life sentence because jurors deemed him a “predatory sexual offender.”

“I have panic attacks that last hours,” one of Yocco’s victims testified at sentencing Thursday. She later added: “I will never forget how disgusting of a person Dominic is.”

Testimony at trial showed Yocco, 23, contacted the girls using social media, then plied them with alcohol and drugs before forcing himself onto them despite their refusals or while they were blacked out.

In most of the encounters, prosecutors said, Yocco sexually assaulted the girls at his grandmother’s home in the 1600 block of Celerity Drive north of Florissant, where he also lived. Yocco was 17 and 18 at the time, between 2016 and 2018. The girls were 16 and younger.

Yocco gave a lengthy statement on his behalf Thursday, placing blame on the media, prosecutors, investigators and the victims, while denying the crimes, claiming the encounters were fabricated or consensual. He emphasized his own young age at the time of the crimes and quoted Bible verses about false accusations.

“I pray (God) will forgive you all for your wicked ways,” Yocco told the courtroom where several victims and their families sat.

He later said: “I do not regret anything in life. … I have learned a lot from what I’ve been through.”

Yocco ended his statement with a social media plug: “Hashtag Free Dom,” he said.

Yocco’s mother, grandmother and aunt also spoke on his behalf, arguing to the judge Yocco has a “heart of gold.”

Original Article