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Janesville man gets 25 years in attack

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Ted Sullivan
December 16, 2010
— Sandra Cole was on life support after being beaten and sexually assaulted.

Doctors advised her family to let her go.


But her family didn't give up, and Cole fought to stay alive.


Cole, 48, of Orfordville emerged from life support after 10 weeks, spent nearly a year in a brain injury center and now receives full-time care in a residential group home.


She needs help standing, eating and dressing. Her memory retention is 90 seconds. She will be that way for the rest of her life.


The seriousness of the injuries that robbed Cole of a normal life is why her attacker was sentenced Wednesday to 25 years in prison and 15 years extended supervision.


Dustin L. Sperb, 22, Janesville, had pleaded guilty to felony charges of second-degree sexual assault and aggravated battery in the May 10, 2009, attack of Cole at her home in Country Courts mobile home park near Orfordville.


Sperb, cuffed in orange jailhouse coveralls, cried and sniffled during parts of the sentencing hearing in Rock County Court. He kept his eyes down and grabbed a tissue while his jaw quivered.


Sperb declined to speak. Instead, his attorney, Tod Daniel, read a letter Sperb had written.


"I'm very sorry. I know there aren't words to show how bad I feel," the letter stated. "I pray and hope every night for God to try and help (Cole's family) get through all of this."


Jennifer Partridge, a social worker, helps Cole in her Madison group home. She said Cole has a traumatic brain injury and needs help moving in her wheelchair.


Cole has pictures of her adult children on her bedroom wall, Partridge said. Sometimes, Cole becomes confused and says she needs to pick up her children at school.


Cole needs help with all daily activities, Partridge said, and she only has long-term memory.


Cole's vision, movement and judgment are impaired, Partridge said. She never will be independent. Her care is paid for by government programs.


Katie Wagner, Cole's daughter, said she wished she had never met Sperb, who once was a family friend.


She said her mother was amazing, cheerful and supportive of her entire family before she was attacked.


Wagner said her mother would never be able to experience her children's weddings, her grandchildren or other future milestones.


"My mother's life is completely ruined," she said.


Judge Richard Werner said Cole was found covered in blood, partially naked and unrecognizable. He said Sperb was drunk the night of the attack.


Werner said Sperb claims he doesn't remember the crime. He said Sperb has a history of alcohol abuse.


Others said Sperb didn't have an active mother or father while growing up. They said alcohol abuse was prominent in his home.


Assistant District Attorney Kate Buker said Sperb's upbringing was no excuse.


"All of us have some problems in our backgrounds," she said.



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