Man defending himself at trial opts for plea agreement
JANESVILLE -- A man who was defending himself at trial against charges of child sexual assault changed his mind Tuesday and took a plea agreement.
Wade A. Hallett, 52, was accused of sexually assaulting a teen girl he knows on multiple occasions as well as possession of child pornography and violating a domestic abuse injunction.
The former town of Fulton man had fired two attorneys before deciding to defend himself.
Jury selection was completed Monday, and a three-day trial had been scheduled to start Wednesday in Rock County Court.
The plea agreement prevents what could have been an excruciating moment: Hallett questioning the victim on the witness stand.
Hallett pleaded no contest to one of the four sexual assault counts. The other three counts were dismissed but read into the record, to be considered at sentencing.
Two child pornography charges -- for possession of lewd photos of the girl Hallett allegedly made her send to him -- were dismissed as was the violation of injunction charge.
He violated the injunction by sending a letter to his wife, expressing his love and asking for forgiveness, according to the criminal complaint.
His wife is divorcing him.
The teenage victim told investigators Hallett assaulted her many times between July 2016 to January 2017.
Hallett told Judge Alan Bates he wanted to plead no contest because he was worried about negative “consequences” that might arise with a guilty plea.
Bates explained to him Bates would find him guilty, anyway, and Hallett said he understood.
Bates accepted the no-contest plea.
Hallett said he had concerns with the accuracy of the criminal complaint's description of the incident for which he pleaded no contest.
Bates said he had to rely on the complaint as a basis to find him guilty, and Hallett could explain his concerns to the writer of the presentence report.
Presentence reports are prepared by the state Department of Corrections and delve into the crime and the background of the defendant.
As part of the plea agreement, Deputy District Attorney Perry Folts will argue for the same sentence as recommended in the presentence investigation. Hallett will be free to argue for any sentence.
The maximum penalties for the count Hallett was found guilty are a $100,000 fine and 40 years in prison.
Bates revoked bond, which keeps Hallett in the Rock County Jail until sentencing.
Hallett is a former captain in the U.S. Army and former state campaign coordinator for Rick Santorum for President in 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile. Hallett also was election board chairman for the Rock County Republican Party in 2016.
Last updated: 6:33 pm Tuesday, October 24, 2017