A Hudson Valley man was sentenced 15-years to life in prison for sexually abusing a girl who called him "dad."

On Friday in Ulster County Court, 41-year-old Christopher Gertz, Jr., of Plattekill, was sentenced for the violent felony of sexual abuse committed against his 12-year-old step-daughter in September of 2017. Gertz lived in the same home in Plattekill with the victim and her mother at that time.

On Sept. 14, 2017, the child complained to her mother that her “dad” (step-dad) inappropriately touched her private areas and may have taken pictures with his smartphone.

The mother called Gertz, but he denied the allegation. However, he left his job without notice and fled from Ulster County to Indiana, officials say

Investigators from Ulster County District Attorney’s Child Advocacy Center enlisted the help of the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department in Indiana to find and arrest Gertz. His phone was found in the water tank of a toilet at the home where he was hiding out in Indiana, officials say.

During the trial, Gertz didn't testify or call any witnesses. In his closing arguments, Gertz’s attorney suggested to the jury the allegations were made up, according to the Ulster County District Attorney's Office.

Prosecutors argued the child had no reason to go through the legal process if the story was false, adding Gertz fled and tried to hide his phone.

According to the Ulster County District Attorney's Office, Gertz's DNA was found on the child's button, zipper and underwear.

A jury convicted Gertz of sexual abuse in October 2018, marking the third felony conviction for Gertz, officials say.

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