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‘I appreciate my freedom because of you,’ victim tells abuser

Nathaniel Kibby was seen at his hearing Thursday.
Nathaniel Kibby was seen at his hearing Thursday. Jim Cole/Associated Press

The facts of the horrific case had been recounted. The nine-month imprisonment of a teenage girl by an abductor who forced her to wear a dog collar, drugged her, and repeatedly sexually assaulted her.

When the mother of the victim confronted her daughter’s torturer Thursday in a New Hampshire courtroom, she wanted to know one thing: Why?

“It’s all I think about,” the mother told the man who kidnapped her daughter after school on Oct. 9, 2013. “Could you please tell us why you did it?”

Nathaniel Kibby instead taunted her. “I don’t have the words at this moment,” he said. Perhaps if the mother wanted to reach out in the future, he’d consider telling her why, he said.

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Kibby withdrew his not guilty plea Thursday and accepted a plea deal of 45 to 90 years in prison for three counts of sexual assault, kidnapping, criminal threatening, witness tampering, and assault.

In the courtroom, the teen confronted her abuser, telling him, “I want you to know I appreciate my freedom because of you . . . I never look at the sunshine the same way. I never think about fresh air the same way. So I also want to thank you for giving me my freedom back.”

She said she forgave Kibby. “I wish things didn’t have to work in the way they do, but I need to be safe and so does my family.”

Judge Larry Smukler, who presided over the hearing in Belknap County Superior Court, told Kibby: “What you did is every parent’s nightmare.”

The judge noted that the sentence was lenient given the nature of Kibby’s crimes but said he was allowing it because it meant the victim could avoid having to endure a trial.

Kibby had faced 182 criminal counts and was set to go to trial next month.

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The massive search for the missing 14-year-old drew international attention to the New Hampshire town of Conway. It ended when Kibby released her in July 2014.

On Thursday, Associate Attorney General Jane Young recounted a monthslong imprisonment of almost unimagineable circumstances.

Young said the victim, three days shy of her 15th birthday, had accepted a ride after school from Kibby because she had forgotten to wear socks and her boots were giving her blisters.

Young said the man promised to drive her to a sandwich shop, but instead drove her to a Home Depot parking lot and drew a handgun.

The girl asked whether she was going to be killed or raped and offered to tell no one if he let her go. Kibby said he wanted oral sex and wouldn’t keep her for more than an hour. He drove through the back roads to his home in Gorham.

He repeatedly shocked her with a Taser, asking if it hurt. When she said it did, he replied, “Well now you know what it feels like,” Young recounted.

At his home, Kibby, gagged her, placed her in a storage container, and sexually assaulted her.

He later tied her to his bed, according to Young, fitting her with a shock collar intended to stop dogs from barking.

He placed her in diapers and gave her a device that would deliver water when he wasn’t there, Young said. During her captivity, Kibby gave his victim sleeping pills, alcohol, and marijuana.

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At one point, as Young described how Kibby taped her eyes shut, the defendant bowed his head in the courtroom, toward his clasped hands, and murmured to himself.

In court documents, prosecutors said Kibby sexually assaulted the girl nearly every day as he held her captive from October 2013 until the following July.

His public defenders said the victim told investigators that “Mr. Kibby got the idea to kidnap her based upon bondage pornography.”

Kibby has both a lengthy criminal record and a history of erratic behavior.

Neighbors told the Globe shortly after his arrest that he had a strong antigovernment bent and an interest in “survivalist strategies.”

Young said Kibby released the girl only after he feared police would discover him.

He had been using counterfeit money to pay prostitutes, she said, and after one was arrested for passing counterfeit bills, Kibby returned home and told the girl he had to “get rid of everything, including you.”

He told the girl she would have to lie to police if he was going to let her go and forced her to rehearse the story she should tell, Young said.

Young said after she was released, the teen bore scars from the dog collar he’d made her wear.

Recent court wrangling in the case has focused on charges that are outside the core allegations regarding Kibby’s treatment of the teen. Authorities in February dropped charges that Kibby had threatened Young, the prosecutor.

In January, a judge granted Kibby’s request to suppress evidence of some of the guns taken from his home.

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However, the judge decided to allow prosecutors to present items including a mask, a laptop computer, sex toys, and a bin of women’s clothing.

While the victim spoke of forgiveness, her mother said she wasn’t able to summon that response.

“There is a part of me that hates you and a part of me that wants peace,” she said.

She begged for his explanation. But he denied the mother, and Kibby once again held something she wanted desperately.


Material from the Associated Press was used in this report. Sarah Schweitzer can be reached at sschweitzer@globe-.com. Andy Rosen can be reached atandrew.rosen@
globe.com
. Follow him on Twitter at @andyrosen.