Fredonia woman‚Äôs plea for leniency rejected by judge who calls crimes committed against 12-year-old repulsive
The lawyer representing a Fredonia woman who subjected her 12-year-old daughter to a sexual assault at the hands of her husband didn‚Äôt try to explain his client‚Äôs crimes but argued last week that she certainly didn‚Äôt deserve the 20-year prison sentence recommended by Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol.
‚ÄúI think this is a prison case, but attorney Gerol gives short shrift to the type of individual she was at the time,‚ÄĚ said William Mayer, the woman‚Äôs attorney, adding that she suffered a ‚Äúverbal and mental beat-down‚ÄĚ at the hands of her husband and exhibited symptoms of domestic abuse. A sentence of 7-1/2 years in prison would be more appropriate, he said.
Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Sandy Williams disagreed.
‚ÄúThis is one of those cases that, quite frankly, is repulsive,‚ÄĚ Williams said. ‚ÄúRepulsive is the only way to describe it.‚ÄĚ
Williams sentenced the woman, who Ozaukee Press is not naming to protect the victim, to 22-1/2 years in prison followed by 15 years of extended supervision.
‚ÄúA person gives birth to a child and society expects that person to provide shelter, basic necessities, food, education, love and protection,‚ÄĚ the judge said. ‚ÄúYou might have provided some of those things, but your actions show you didn‚Äôt provide the love or the protection.‚ÄĚ
Instead, the woman ‚Äúsat on the bed while her husband sexually assaulted her 12-year-old daughter and didn‚Äôt do a thing,‚ÄĚ Williams said.
The woman, 37, pleaded no contest in May to felony crimes of failure to protect a child from sexual assault, being party to the crime of first-degree sexual assault of a child younger than 13 and child enticement-sexual contact.
A week earlier, Ozaukee County Circuit Judge Paul Malloy sentenced the woman‚Äôs 45-year-old husband to 35 years in prison followed by 20 years of extended supervision for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, who was ‚Äúserved up‚ÄĚ to him by her mother as some sort of perverse birthday gift, Gerol said.
‚ÄúThis was a 12-year-old girl,‚ÄĚ Gerol said. ‚ÄúShe should never have been exposed to something like this.‚ÄĚ
A jury deliberated less than two hours in February before finding the man guilty of first-degree sexual assault of a child and incest with a child by a stepparent. Gerol called the trial remarkable not only because of the testimony provided by the young victim but because her mother also testified against her husband.
During the trial, the girl told jurors that on April 1, 2013 ‚ÄĒ her stepfather‚Äôs 44th birthday ‚ÄĒ her mother led her into the master bedroom of the family‚Äôs Fredonia apartment, where her stepfather was waiting.
‚ÄúShe (her mother) said, ‚ÄėWe‚Äôre going to give your daddy a special birthday gift,‚Äô‚ÄĚ the girl, now 13, told jurors. ‚ÄúI said, ‚ÄėI don‚Äôt want to, mommy,‚Äô but she said, ‚ÄėDo this just for once.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
The girl‚Äôs mother told jurors she was depressed and overworked and finally gave in to her husband‚Äôs incessant requests to have sex with one of her daughters. She said she lay curled up on the bed with her husband and daughter until the assault was over.
‚ÄúIn late-reporting cases like this, it always comes down to a matter of credibility,‚ÄĚ Gerol said during the sentencing. ‚ÄúHer (the mother‚Äôs) testimony was extremely useful.‚ÄĚ
By late reporting, Gerol meant that the assault was not reported until about two month after it occurred, when the victim and her older sister were visiting their biological father in Illinois and the older girl alluded to the assault.
Gerol said the mother‚Äôs first instinct was to protect herself. During a phone conversation with her daughter, the woman said, ‚Äú‚ÄėIt‚Äôs not going to happen again,‚Äô‚ÄĚ Gerol said. ‚Äú(The girl‚Äôs mother) wanted her to shut up. She got in the car and was going to pick her up.‚ÄĚ
The woman eventually admitted the assault occurred, and Gerol said he was struck by the moment in an interview in which a detective told the woman she would have to find a way to live with herself.
Gerol said he contacted the woman‚Äôs attorney and asked if she would testify against her husband to ‚Äúdo something ‚ÄĒ far too little, far too late ‚ÄĒ but something to make amends.‚ÄĚ
Gerol said he offered nothing in return to a woman who abdicated ‚Äúthe most fundamental directive of a parent‚ÄĚ except some personal sense of redemption.
‚ÄúNothing can excuse what happened here ‚ÄĒ nothing,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThere is a need to protect the public. With a fairly lengthy sentence, it‚Äôs clear this defendant won‚Äôt have any more children.‚ÄĚ
But Mayer said his client does deserve consideration because she testified against a man she feared without asking once what was in it for her.
‚ÄúShe was scared of taking the stand because she‚Äôd have to get up in front of (her husband) and look him in the eye,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúBut she did it, and she didn‚Äôt use her daughter as a bargaining chip.‚ÄĚ
The judge, however, described the woman‚Äôs decision to testify as self-serving.
‚ÄúThat testimony you offered was the only way you were going to be able to survive,‚ÄĚ Williams said. ‚ÄúSomehow you had to deal with the fact that the monster inside of you allowed this to happen to your daughter. It was your way of atoning for what you did.‚ÄĚ
During the sentencing of the woman‚Äôs husband in May, his lawyer, Perry Lieuallen, blamed the wife for the assault.
‚ÄúThe wife, the (girl‚Äôs) mother, is the devil,‚ÄĚ Lieuallen said. ‚ÄúThis is a horrible crime. This is a crime orchestrated by one person ‚ÄĒ his wife.‚ÄĚ
Last week, Mayer worked hard to differentiate his client‚Äôs crimes with those of her husband, at one point using the analogy of a bank robber and a getaway driver.
‚ÄúOne person goes into a bank, shoots the place up and maybe takes someone‚Äôs life,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúThen you have the wheelman waiting outside. I would characterize (her) as the wheelman.
‚ÄúAs they say, the fish stinks from the head on down, and (her husband) was the head of this household.‚ÄĚ
Mayer said the woman‚Äôs husband was another in a series of men, starting with her father and including her first husband, who belittled her. A psychological exam revealed that she was passive and had low self-esteem, similar to a victim of domestic abuse, he said.
‚ÄúShe has a need to place herself in situations where she‚Äôll suffer,‚ÄĚ Mayer said.
But again, the judge wasn‚Äôt buying it.
Noting that the woman had the confidence to kick her first husband out of their home after she discovered he was being unfaithful, Williams said, ‚ÄúPsychologists can give an explanation for anyone‚Äôs behavior. He (her current husband) is truly evil, but you didn‚Äôt kick him out.
You allowed this to happen, and there‚Äôs no question how severe and awful these crimes were.‚ÄĚ
Williams also took issue with Mayer‚Äôs bank robber analogy.
‚ÄúThe problem with the analogy is that the bank robber doesn‚Äôt know the person he shoots,‚ÄĚ the judge told the woman. ‚ÄúThe victim in this case is your flesh and blood. You gave birth to the victim in this case.‚ÄĚ
Sobbing, the woman was too emotional to speak during her sentencing, but Mayer read a short statement she wrote.
‚ÄúI want to be a mother my kids can be proud of,‚ÄĚ she wrote.
Williams responded by saying, ‚ÄúThe one thing I didn‚Äôt hear is, ‚ÄėI‚Äôm so sorry for what I did to (my daughter.)‚Äô‚ÄĚ
At Gerol‚Äôs request, Williams ordered the woman not to have contact with her daughter unless the girl requests it and it‚Äôs approved by the woman‚Äôs probation agent. In addition, the judge ordered the woman not to have contact with anyone younger than 18.