Former Elkhorn wresting coach's prison sentence reduced

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Andrea Anderson
Friday, August 1, 2014

ELKHORN—A former Elkhorn wrestling coach will remain in prison for three years instead of four.

Steven Springsteen-Hensel, 33, was sentenced in July 2013 for felony child enticement after he exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a 17-year-old boy he coached.

Before a motion hearing could be held Friday, attorneys arrived at a deal to reduce the amount of time served in prison.

Springsteen-Hensel, a former Southern Lakes Wrestling Club coach, and his attorney John Grau filed a motion in February to withdraw the defendant's guilty plea because it wasn't entered “knowingly, voluntarily and intelligently,” according to the motion.

Before pleading guilty, Springsteen-Hensel wasn't told the state would need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt during trial that his purpose for the texts were sexual arousal or sexual gratification, the motion states.

Grau argued a plea is not voluntary if the defendant doesn't understand the elements of the charges when a plea is entered.

The motion also states Springsteen-Hensel was told confusion about the victim's age wasn't a defense.

“The defendant's knowledge of the victim's age, and a mistake regarding a victim's age, is a defense under the applicable jury instruction,” the motion states.

Josh Grube, the former prosecutor of the case, filed a response stating the defendant never alleged he did not understand the connection between sexual gratification and enticing a victim, was advised of the elements of the crime, and that the victim was “well-known” to the defendant.

Before a motion hearing could take place, Grau and Haley Rea, who now serves as prosecutor, arrived at a deal where Springsteen-Hensel would spend three years in prison and serve seven years probation. Previously, he would have spent four years in prison and served six years probation.

The victim and the victim's mother were notified before Judge David Reddy approved the compromise.

Delavan police initiated an investigation in May 2013 and used the 17-year-old victim 10 hours shy of his 18th birthday to catch Springsteen-Hensel.

A detective posing as the victim made plans to meet the defendant at Phoenix Middle School, Delavan, to go on a bike ride. The plan included veering off the bike trail, where the former wrestling coach would perform oral sex.

Neither attorney would comment on what led to the reduced sentence.

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