It’s taken two years for the Dane County Department of Human Services to find a home for the convicted sex offender who will be placed in Rutland within the next week.
The man’s identity has been obtained through court proceedings and shared by local government entities, but because he is a patient still undergoing treatment and subject to confidentiality laws, the state Department of Human Services could not confirm it and the Observer is withholding his name.
The placement is part of a supervised release program for people who have served their time for crimes but have been committed because they were considered likely to reoffend. According to a state Department of Justice petition, the man, now 66, suffers from mental conditions that predispose him to engage in acts of sexual violence.
He was convicted in 1985 for two separate incidents against two women occurring the same night, within 15 minutes of each other. The six charges were two counts of attempted second-degree sexual assault, two counts of false imprisonment and two of misdemeanor battery.
The county DHS has struggled to find a home for the man, having explored hundreds of potential locations in the area before settling on the one at 3482 Hwy. 138. Neighbors who had been notified of the placement by law enforcement took their concerns to the Rutland Town Board and were told the town had no means of fighting the placement because of a state law enacted in 2016.
The man had been sentenced to 37 1/2 years in the Wisconsin state prison system and was set to be released on July 2, 2013, but the DOJ filed a petition under the state’s sexual predator law on June 27 of that year, alleging he is a sexually violent person and should be committed for treatment, according to online court records.
The court ordered DHS to conduct an evaluation to determine whether he is a sexually violent person in August 2013, which could have been heard and decided on at a jury trial that year, but the man’s attorney withdrew the request for a jury trial and agreed to the “sexually violent person” commitment at Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, located in Mauston.
Sand Ridge houses an average of 330 adult men who have been committed to treatment after completing a sentence for their sex crimes within the Department of Corrections.
Finding a home
Supervised release is granted once a patient is determined by a court to be no longer likely to reoffend. Then, the patient is released to his or her original county of residence.
In this case the county was given 90 days to submit a plan for the release in May 2017.
Those plans were delayed for 790 days.
Part of the supervised release program mandates an offender must be placed in the county he was originally from before serving prison time, as long as it fits within the “buffer” requirements that restrict an offender from being placed near schools, parks and churches, and is not near the people who were victims of his sex crimes.
Court records do not show the previous address of the man, but the assaults occurred in Madison.
A March letter from Jessica Ecker, behavioral health program specialist at the county DHS, said that within the first 120 days after the court order, the county DHS office sent 475 letters to individual addresses that would meet the criteria for housing the patient. Of those, only 11 responded asking for more information and none remained after that. She wrote that 100 more homes were pursued, but none were viable options.
Her letter explained that as of that date, 157,701 rental properties exist in Dane County. Of those, 3,187 met the buffer requirements Only 605 met further criteria after manual review.
According to her letter and court records, the home in Rutland is the only remaining that met all of those requirements and had an interested landlord willing to work with a convicted sex offender and the state’s program.
Assaults, plea deal
The two crimes occurred near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.
In both cases, charges were reduced by a plea deal.
The complaint alleged that in February 1985, the man followed a woman into the lobby of her Langdon Street apartment building and asked if she wanted “some company.” The woman told him to “get away from me,” and she hit him in the chest.
He then grabbed and dragged her outside of the building, grabbed her buttocks and slapped her several times, according to the complaint. She began screaming and managed to escape, and her screams caught the attention of a witness, who later identified the man.
Approximately 15 minutes later, the man grabbed a different woman as she exited her car near a dormitory on campus. The complaint said he forcibly dragged her into a secluded area, and after she screamed, he hit her in the face and threatened to kill her. Her screams alerted others in the area and they chased the man onto frozen Lake Mendota, where he was caught and turned over to police.
The original charges included second degree sexual assault against the first woman and threatening injury against the second. The second degree sexual assault was modified to an attempted second degree sexual assault and the threaten injury charge was dropped due to a plea deal that resulted in a no contest plea and one less felony charge.