Less than two weeks before the April 3, 2018, election for Wisconsin Supreme Court, the candidate backed by liberals attacked the candidate backed by conservatives in something of an unexpected way:
As being lenient in two sex crime cases.
Dallet alleges in the ad that Screnock "let a child predator walk without time and let a rapist who preyed on an underage girl go free after only an eight-month sentence."
Let’s review both cases.
Child predator claim
The first case referenced in the ad involves Axel R. Conrad of Wisconsin Dells. He was charged in February 2015 with felony repeated sexual assault of the same child, according to online court records. The incidents occurred over roughly a two-year period starting when Conrad was 17 and the victim was 14.
Conrad pleaded no contest to the charge and Screnock sentenced him to five years of probation.
In a written statement, the girl told Screnock before the sentencing that she agreed with the probation sentence and said: "I knew what I was doing. I was a willing participant."
An important point to note is that the prosecutor and the defense attorney agreed with the probation recommendation of the probation department, although judges are not bound by such recommendations.
We’ll also note that the use of the "predator" in the ad can be understood as an older person preying on a younger person, but this was not a case involving a violent sex offender, according to state law.
So, it’s correct to say Screnock didn’t sentence Conrad to any "time" -- as in, time behind bars -- though Conrad was put on probation.
The other case involved Aldo Eder Ruiz-Velazquez of Sauk City. He was initially charged in March 2016 with third-degree sexual assault, a felony that carries a maximum prison term of 10 years; and with sex with a child age 16 or older, a misdemeanor, according to online court records.
In a plea bargain, Ruiz-Velazquez, who was 24 at the time he was charged, pleaded no contest to fourth-degree sexual assault of a child, a misdemeanor, according to online court records. That charge is defined as having sexual contact with a person without the consent of that person.
Screnock sentenced Ruiz-Velazquez to two years of probation, including eight months in jail, nearly the maximum time of nine months in jail allowed on the reduced charge.
According to a Baraboo News-Republic news article, two underage females said Ruiz-Velazquez bought alcohol for them and took them to a house where they drank together. One of the girls, who was 16, told police that when she went to the bathroom, Ruiz-Velazquez followed her inside and locked the door and had sex with her, even though she repeatedly told him no.
The article said the prosecutor agreed to reduce the felony to the misdemeanor in exchange for Ruiz-Velazquez pleading no contest to that charge. The prosecutor and the defense attorney recommended the sentence that Screnock ultimately imposed, the article said.
It was unclear whether the victim would have been willing to testify in a trial.
According to the news article, the prosecutor said the sentence balanced the victim’s wishes with the needs of society. Screnock, the article said, said that while the charge was serious, the need to protect the public was minimal because Ruiz-Velazquez did not have a history of prior criminal activity.
So, the sentence in this case was eight months, but that was nearly the maximum allowed by law under the plea bargain that had been made.
Dallet says Screnock "let a child predator walk without time and let a rapist who preyed on an underage girl go free after only an eight-month sentence."
In the first case, an older male teen repeatedly had sex with a younger female teen, who told authorities the relationship was consensual. He was sentenced to five years of probation, but no time behind bars.
In the second case, a 16-year-old said a 24-year-old man forced her to have intercourse and he was sentenced two years of probation, including eight months in jail, after pleading no contest to a reduced sexual assault charge. The maximum possible jail sentence for the misdemeanor, the result of a plea bargain, was nine months.
We rate Dallet’s statement Mostly True.