Elkhorn men get jail, probation for sexually assaulting same 14-year-old girl

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Andrea Anderson
Tuesday, March 10, 2015

ELKHORN—The mother of a 14-year-old girl sexually assaulted by three men in an Elkhorn basement in 2013 pleaded with judges Tuesday to send two of the men to prison and require sex offender registration.

At the final man's sentencing Tuesday, the mother's frustration boiled over when the judge ordered no prison and no sex offender registration.

“This has got to stop,” the mother told Walworth County Judge James Carlson. “We're not setting a good example for other children in our community. They think this is OK, that all you're going to get is a slap on the hand.”

About two hours after the mother's pleas, Carlson sentenced Braden D. Mann, 19, of W5244 County ES, to nine months in jail and five years probation.

Prosecutor Haley Rea recommended a sentence of 10 years probation, nine months in jail and counseling for Mann because he had initiated and orchestrated the assault, Rea said.

“He encouraged his friends, he set it up … (he) told his friends what they could get out of this situation,” Rea said.

Hours before Mann's sentencing, Racine County Judge Allan Torhorst sentenced Gage A. Timmer, 19, of 433 W. Court St., to six months in jail, five years probation, counseling in a low-risk sex offender treatment program but no sex-offender registration.

For Timmer, Rea had recommended eight years probation, three months in jail and counseling.

In January, Carlson sentenced the third man, Nicholas T. Cook, 19, of 408. W. Centralia St., to six months in jail, four-and-a-half years probation but no sex-offender registration.

State statutes in some circumstances give judges the discretion to decide whether those convicted of sexual assault must register as sex offenders. Carlson and Torhorst said the registry is not a punishment but a tool to protect the community.

All three men pleaded guilty to sexual assault of a child younger than 16. As part of the plea agreements, the prosecution agreed not to argue for or against sex offender registration.

At the respective hearings Tuesday, the judges said the men are not a threat to the community because they had no criminal history and the sexual assault was an isolated incident.

The three men and victim attended Elkhorn Area High School at the same time. Since the assault, the victim and her family have moved to a community about 200 miles from Elkhorn.

The girl sent a message to Mann via Facebook on Dec. 21, 2013, asking if he would go out with her. Mann responded that if he picked her up, she would have to have sex with all three of them, according to court documents.

She agreed. When Mann picked her up, she was given alcohol before each of the men had sex with her individually in Cook's basement that night, according to criminal complaints, court documents and attorneys statements in court.

All three admitted to Thomas Bushey, Elkhorn police detective, that they had sexual contact with the girl in the basement that day and had been drinking, according to court documents.

The girl later tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection, which led to the parents reporting the incident, according to court documents and court statements.

From whom the girl contracted the infection has not been determined.

The victim's mother told Carlson that Mann “preyed” on her “na´ve” daughter via social media.

Mann's attorney, Michael Fitzgerald, and Timmer's attorney, Steven Harvey, said the victim had a record of meeting older men and corresponding with men internationally via the Internet.

Torhorst made a point in Timmer's sentencing that he was not going to partake in blaming any victim of sexual assault and that Timmer was the only one to be held accountable for Timmer's actions.

“I give no weight to the victim's behavior with regards to your culpability,” Torhorst said. “You and your co-actors were simply perpetrating a crime that exposes you to 40 years in prison. It's so incredibly serious I can't state it anymore clearly than that.”

Torhorst initially viewed the case as deserving a prison sentence and said it would have in Racine County, but because of the support Timmer has from family, friends and the community and Timmer's ability to follow his bond conditions, he felt jail and probation were sufficient.

Family and friends of the defendants and victim filled the courtroom at each sentencing.

One woman, Danne Fell, a friend of the defendants' and victim's families spoke about how the community is divided by the issue. Her son sat on the opposite side behind Timmer and Mann during the sentencing hearings.

“Our hearts break for this,” Fell said. "If the law is broken, there are penalties for doing so. I also believe good people make very bad decisions every day. Families have been torn apart by this situation,” she later added.

At their hearings Tuesday, Mann and Timmer apologized to their families, friends, the victims and the victims' families.

“I will think about my actions every day,” Timmer said through sobs. “And this case will be on my mind until the day I die. It will keep me out of trouble and make me a better person.”

Mann said he thinks about that December night every day.

“I know I've made a mistake and take full responsibility of my actions … I know that I have made a mistake and I've messed up big time,” Mann said. “I've learned so much from this entire incident.”

Last updated: 8:51 pm Tuesday, March 10, 2015

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