Christopher Dionne, the former host of a short-lived HGTV series, was sentenced this week to three years in prison for molesting the 10-year-old friend of his daughter at his house in Connecticut two years ago.
A judge sentenced Dionne, 37, on Wednesday, December 11 to seven years in prison to be suspended after three years served, The Day of New London, Connecticut reports. He will also be required to spend 10 years on probation and register as a sex offender.
Dionne was convicted of risk of injury to a minor and fourth-degree sexual assault in October, an official with the New London Superior Court confirmed to PEOPLE earlier this year. Dionne’s victim, a 10-year-old girl who played on the same soccer team as his 10-year-old daughter, claimed that Dionne molested her when she slept over at his house in November of 2017, according to an arrest warrant application obtained by the outlet.
She said she woke up at around 1:30 a.m. to find Dionne groping her buttocks underneath her pajamas, adding he later groped her chest and took a photo of her using his cellphone, all while his daughter and 14-year-old son were asleep in the same room, according to the outlet.
The girl said that Dionne had done something similar before, in September, when he asked her if she wanted to kiss his genitals, the outlet reports.
Dionne was arrested in January 2018, according to another PEOPLE report. He has maintained his innocence, telling police in November 2017 that he did interact with the child that night, but claimed that she put her arms around him and began to rub his stomach, at which point he claimed that he pushed her away and told her her actions were “inappropriate.”
Dionne, who starred in the HGTV series “Family Flip” when it aired for one episode in 2015, was in the middle of filming an A&E home remodeling show called “House Rescue” when the police first sought him out in November 2017, according to PEOPLE. The network halted production of the series in the wake of the molestation claims.
During Dionne’s trial, prosecutors presented evidence that Dionne’s DNA had been found in the inner waistband of the girl’s pajama bottoms, according to The Day.
Following his sentencing this week, Dionne is expected to appeal his convictions, the paper reports. When asked by a judge if he wished to speak on Wednesday, he said that he did not wish to disparage anyone, but thanked his loved ones for their support.
Dionne’s victim was not present at Wednesday’s hearing, but her mother shared an emotional victim impact statement, revealing that her daughter had received backlash on social media following the accusation and that the girl expressed regret that she’d come forward, the paper reports.
“Was doing the right thing in fact the right thing for the best interest of my daughter?” she asked the court.
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