Fredonia womanâs 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 didnât try to explain his clientâs crimes but argued last week that she certainly didnât deserve the 20-year prison sentence recommended by Ozaukee County District Attorney Adam Gerol.
âI think this is a prison case, but attorney Gerol gives short shrift to the type of individual she was at the time,â said William Mayer, the womanâs attorney, adding that she suffered a âverbal and mental beat-downâ 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.
âThis is one of those cases that, quite frankly, is repulsive,â Williams said. âRepulsive is the only way to describe it.â
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.
âA person gives birth to a child and society expects that person to provide shelter, basic necessities, food, education, love and protection,â the judge said. âYou might have provided some of those things, but your actions show you didnât provide the love or the protection.â
Instead, the woman âsat on the bed while her husband sexually assaulted her 12-year-old daughter and didnât do a thing,â 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 womanâs 45-year-old husband to 35 years in prison followed by 20 years of extended supervision for sexually assaulting his stepdaughter, who was âserved upâ to him by her mother as some sort of perverse birthday gift, Gerol said.
âThis was a 12-year-old girl,â Gerol said. âShe should never have been exposed to something like this.â
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 â her stepfatherâs 44th birthday â her mother led her into the master bedroom of the familyâs Fredonia apartment, where her stepfather was waiting.
âShe (her mother) said, âWeâre going to give your daddy a special birthday gift,ââ the girl, now 13, told jurors. âI said, âI donât want to, mommy,â but she said, âDo this just for once.ââ
The girlâs mother told jurors she was depressed and overworked and finally gave in to her husbandâs 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.
âIn late-reporting cases like this, it always comes down to a matter of credibility,â Gerol said during the sentencing. âHer (the motherâs) testimony was extremely useful.â
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 motherâs first instinct was to protect herself. During a phone conversation with her daughter, the woman said, ââItâs not going to happen again,ââ Gerol said. â(The girlâs mother) wanted her to shut up. She got in the car and was going to pick her up.â
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 womanâs attorney and asked if she would testify against her husband to âdo something â far too little, far too late â but something to make amends.â
Gerol said he offered nothing in return to a woman who abdicated âthe most fundamental directive of a parentâ except some personal sense of redemption.
âNothing can excuse what happened here â nothing,â he said. âThere is a need to protect the public. With a fairly lengthy sentence, itâs clear this defendant wonât have any more children.â
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.
âShe was scared of taking the stand because sheâd have to get up in front of (her husband) and look him in the eye,â he said. âBut she did it, and she didnât use her daughter as a bargaining chip.â
The judge, however, described the womanâs decision to testify as self-serving.
âThat testimony you offered was the only way you were going to be able to survive,â Williams said. âSomehow 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.â
During the sentencing of the womanâs husband in May, his lawyer, Perry Lieuallen, blamed the wife for the assault.
âThe wife, the (girlâs) mother, is the devil,â Lieuallen said. âThis is a horrible crime. This is a crime orchestrated by one person â his wife.â
Last week, Mayer worked hard to differentiate his clientâs crimes with those of her husband, at one point using the analogy of a bank robber and a getaway driver.
âOne person goes into a bank, shoots the place up and maybe takes someoneâs life,â he said. âThen you have the wheelman waiting outside. I would characterize (her) as the wheelman.
âAs they say, the fish stinks from the head on down, and (her husband) was the head of this household.â
Mayer said the womanâs 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.
âShe has a need to place herself in situations where sheâll suffer,â Mayer said.
But again, the judge wasnât 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, âPsychologists can give an explanation for anyoneâs behavior. He (her current husband) is truly evil, but you didnât kick him out.
You allowed this to happen, and thereâs no question how severe and awful these crimes were.â
Williams also took issue with Mayerâs bank robber analogy.
âThe problem with the analogy is that the bank robber doesnât know the person he shoots,â the judge told the woman. âThe victim in this case is your flesh and blood. You gave birth to the victim in this case.â
Sobbing, the woman was too emotional to speak during her sentencing, but Mayer read a short statement she wrote.
âI want to be a mother my kids can be proud of,â she wrote.
Williams responded by saying, âThe one thing I didnât hear is, âIâm so sorry for what I did to (my daughter.)ââ
At Gerolâs request, Williams ordered the woman not to have contact with her daughter unless the girl requests it and itâs approved by the womanâs probation agent. In addition, the judge ordered the woman not to have contact with anyone younger than 18.