APPLETON, Wis. — A man who claimed his 3-year-old daughter initiated sexual contact with him in 2012 was sentenced Thursday to 12 years in prison after a judge ordered he remain behind bars long enough for his child to grow up without being re-victimized.
The 39-year-old man also was sentenced to eight years of extended supervision and ordered to have no contact with the girl or minors without prior approval. In June 2013, he pleaded no contest to first-degree child sex assault, a felony punishable by up to 60 years in prison.
"I suspect he plays up his mental illness either to gain sympathy or deflect the severity of his acts, and that's problematic when we're dealing with sexual deviancy," Outagamie County Judge Mitchell Metropulos said. "He needs long-term treatment, and to protect the victim, I want her to be a sufficient age so (the defendant) cannot re-victimize her (upon release)."
The Post-Crescent is not identifying the defendant to protect the victim's identity.
Prosecutors recommended a more severe sentence than the judge imposed Thursday, citing the man's denial of his guilt and a need to protect the community.
"He blames others, he blames the mother of the child for making this story up, and he blames it on the victim," said Assistant District Attorney Peter Hahn said. "He's about as dangerous as they come to the most vulnerable of people, and the community deserves to have him locked up for a long time."
Hahn recommended a 25-year imprisonment followed by 15 years of extended supervision.
The defendant said that while his mental issues did not rise to the level of incompetence, he was unable to make timely decisions and his defense had suffered as a result. He asked the judge to order mental health treatment as part of his sentencing and said he regretted his actions.
"To be frank and honest, nobody knows what I've been going through except me — it makes me sick every day, and I feel I'm the most awful person in the world," the man said. "I wish the best for my daughter and I hope she can live at least somewhat of a normal life. I never meant to hurt her or anybody else."
In July 2012, the child told her mother that the man liked to "play doctor" by exposing himself and touching her genital area, according to the criminal complaint. During an interview with the Child Advocacy Center in Neenah, the girl said her father instructed her to lock the bedroom door and not tell her mother what happened.
The man told police the 3-year-old undressed herself and unzipped his pants, initiating the contact herself after learning it from a 5-year-old her mother babysat, the complaint stated.
"The facts in this case are about as bad as they can get in terms of age and the conduct engaged in," Hahn said. "In his initial statements to law enforcement, he said he feels like he's the victim of this small child who came onto him and he became aroused. It's despicable."
The 2-year-old case was mired by the defendant's competency evaluation, frequent switching of defense attorneys and repeatedly denied motions to withdraw his plea and prevent his confession to police from being used as evidence.
On Thursday, the man requested a further delay, saying his public defender Leonard Kachinsky failed to provide sufficient counsel. Metropulos denied the motion.
"This is all indicative that (the defendant) once again tried to delay this case to avoid sentencing," Metropulos said in response to the man's reasons for the delay. "There was a plea over a year ago, and he has consistently tried to delay sentencing through various motions."
Before imposing his sentence, Metropulos noted the defendant did have reported mental health issues, although he was competent and able to understand what he was doing was wrong. The judge did give the man about two years of credit for the time he served in jail, which he spent taking parenting and career classes and obtaining the equivalent of a high school diploma.