A Blaine man who sexually abused children for nearly two decades will spend at least 25 years in prison, with the possibility of life.
Sergey Andreevich Kovalenko, 60, was sentenced July 12 in Whatcom County Superior Court to a minimum of 25 years in prison and up to a maximum of life. A jury convicted Kovalenko April 21 of first-degree rape of a child, two counts of first-degree child molestation, five counts of second-degree child molestation and three counts of third-degree child molestation, according to court records. The felony charges spanned almost two decades, from 1996 to 2015.
Kovalenko was given an indeterminate sentence, which means the Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board will decide whether more time will be added to his 25 years. The board will review his offenses, behavior in prison and whether it would be safe to release him back into the community late into his sentence.
The standard sentencing range is 20 to 26.5 years, according to a Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office Facebook post. The state recommended 26.5 years, but Whatcom County superior court judge Robert Olson sentenced Kovalenko to 25 years.
According to court records, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Kovalenko in 2016 for suspicion of sexually assaulting multiple children known to him over a nearly two-decade period. It found he had sexually assaulted three girls from 1996 to 2015. The girls ranged from five to 15 years old.
Kovalenko was arrested in June 2016 at a Ferndale elementary school where he worked as a janitor and later released on $20,000 bail. He had worked for Ferndale school district for 20 years, 19 of which were at the same elementary school, according to court records.
One of the survivors said Kovalenko sexually assaulted her from the time she was six or seven years old until she was 17, and if she refused, he would threaten to hurt her, records show. She said the abuse stopped once she told family members.
“My whole childhood was erased for someone’s stupid pleasure. Whether he sits five, ten, twenty or life, it won’t change what happened,” one survivor said in her victim impact statement, according to court records. “I reported this because I didn’t want him touching someone else.”
Kovalenko asked the state Department of Corrections if he could pay a fine to avoid prison time, which investigators said in court documents showed he did not understand the situation or care about the harm he caused.
He was convicted in 2004 for second-degree reckless endangerment/negligent driving.
Kovalenko will be required to register as a sex offender if he is released from prison. The court imposed a sexual assault protection order to protect the survivors for life.
If you or someone you know is affected by domestic or sexual violence, please call the DVSAS 24-hour hotline at 360/715-1563 or 877/715-1563. Lummi Victims of Crime has a 24-hour helpline at 360/312-2015. The National Domestic Violence Helpline operates a chat line at thehotline.org/help.
Brigid Collins Family Support Center, a Bellingham-based nonprofit working to end child abuse, can be reached at 360/734-4616 and brigidcollins.org.
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