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Teen pleads guilty to sexual assault charge

Last Updated: Sept. 9, 2003

A 15-year-old boy who lost his challenge of the state's sexual assault statutes pleaded guilty Tuesday to a reduced charge stemming from his kissing and touching with his then-girlfriend in her mother's bed.

The boy told Children's Court Judge Thomas Donegan that he had learned his lesson and wanted to go home after spending two months in the Milwaukee County Juvenile Detention Center.

"This is tearing me apart in here," the boy said during a brief court appearance.

His attorney, Donald Linke, said the two months in secure detention served as a substantial penalty for the teenage fondling that took place in October 2002.

Both the boy and the girl, also 15, appeared contrite and respectful in court Tuesday, which differed from the earlier attitudes that helped propel their sexual encounter into a 10-month legal affair.

Court records say the girl challenged her mother to call police after she and the boy were caught half-naked in bed.

The girl pleaded guilty to fourth-degree sexual assault and was ordered to undergo counseling and receive other services through the county Wraparound Program. She has a history of problems at home, including running away while on probation.

The boy initially secured a deferred prosecution agreement, but failed to abide by the rules and put the case back in the hands of prosecutors, who charged him with attempted second-degree sexual assault.

Linke sought to have the case dismissed, arguing that the state law was meant to protect children from being victimized by adults. The law was not meant to apply to teenagers having consensual sex, he said.

Donegan, however, refused to dismiss the case last month, and was prepared to hold a trial on the juvenile felony charge Tuesday morning.

Facing a possible guilty verdict and an extended stay in a juvenile correction center, the boy accepted a plea agreement and admitted to fourth-degree sexual assault. He likely will be ordered into the Wraparound program at his sentencing hearing on Oct. 28.

"He wants this to be over," Linke said. "He saw pleading as the fastest way to get out."

His immediate release was tentative, however, dependent on his father agreeing to take the boy back home. Failing that, he will be put on a waiting list for a shelter.

Assistant District Attorney Cynthia Brown said the fourth-degree sexual assault charge was appropriate for the youths' actions and gives both of them opportunities to receive counseling to learn to accept adult authority.

From the Sept. 10, 2003 editions of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel



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