Mequon - In a case his parents consider prosecutorial overkill, a 14-year-old Mequon boy has been charged with five counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and faces the prospect of being tagged a sex offender for touching several girls in what his parents admit was an inappropriate manner.
So, last week in Ozaukee County Circuit Court, the boy's parents said no when Ozaukee County District Attorney Sandy Williams offered to reduce the charges to two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault and, if he pleaded no contest, to expunge his conviction if he stayed out of trouble for a year.
The parents said their son was guilty of nothing more than disorderly conduct.
"We don't want to have anything to do with sexual assault," said the boy's father, who along with the boy's mother is not being identified to protect the identity of the juvenile boy. "He could be put on a sex offender registry list that would come back to haunt him."
Now the boy is scheduled to appear in court again Feb. 3 for an evidentiary hearing, which amounts to a trial, in which the girls are likely to be compelled to testify and experts will be called to give their opinion on whether a 12- or 13-year-old boy can be sexually aroused by grabbing a girl's buttocks.
The maximum penalty for each of the five misdemeanor charges is nine months' incarceration, according to a juvenile delinquency petition. According to state Department of Corrections spokesman Rachel Krueger, those convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault are not required to register as sex offenders, but a judge could order the boy to do so, especially since the alleged victims were children and because of the number of counts against him.
State law says fourth-degree sexual assault occurs when someone intentionally touches another person to gratify himself sexually, or sexually degrades or humiliates that person.
In the opinion of Buntrock and Williams, that's what the boy did.
To the parents, however, their son is guilty of inappropriate behavior, disorderly conduct and "numskull friendliness," the mother said, quoting a therapist with whom her son has met.
"A 12-year-old boy does not do these things to sexually gratify himself," she said.
According to affidavits submitted in court Thursday in an attempt to block an order to testify in court, the girls and their parents said they did not feel degraded by the boy and that they did not want him criminally prosecuted, only disciplined by the school for the two events on June 6.
Their son and the girls remain friends, the boy's parents said.
THIS IS a rather troubling occurrence. Since it has been problematic in the past, why does the behavior continue? This young man obviously needs therapy, guidance and consequences. It doesn't sound like any of that has ever been established. Perhaps that is why things have escalated to this point. Since he and the girls are "still friends", there is probably more to this story than what we are hearing. At any rate, I don't think this kid deserves to be labeled a sex offender. He needs help.