Wrestling coach pleads guilty to felony child enticement
ELKHORN The teen climbed the steps to a Walworth County courtroom with a college lanyard hanging from his pocket.
He was an 18-year-old adult sitting in the front row of a crowded courtroom Friday, but he was spoken of as a child in courtroom legal discussions. He was a juvenile when his wrestling coach, Steven Springsteen-Hensel, tried to meet him for a sexual encounter nine months ago, according to court documents.
While the young man watched, Springsteen-Hensel pleaded guilty Friday to felony child enticement. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dismissed a charge of attempted sexual assault of a child by someone who works with children.
Springsteen-Hensel, a former coach at Southern Lakes Wrestling Club in Elkhorn, will face as many as 15 years in prison and 10 years of supervised release when he is sentenced April 22. He also will have to register as a sex offender.
Assistant Public Defender Travis Schwantes said Springsteen-Hensel wanted to avoid a jury trial on the two charges, which was set to begin Monday.
“My client … did not want to put the community through a trial, certainly did not want him to go through a trial, and he wants to get this done,” Schwantes said.
The teen joined Southern Lakes Wrestling Club when he was 17 and a student at Delavan-Darien High School.
After Springsteen-Hensel had a sexually explicit conversation with the teen in May 2012, the 17-year-old gave his phone to a Delavan police detective, according to a criminal complaint.
Thinking he was talking to the teen, Springsteen-Hensel sent a number of sexually explicit text messages to the detective. He also made plans to pick up the teen the next day at Phoenix Middle School in Delavan and take him to a bike path to perform a sex act.
It was the day before the boy’s 18th birthday, making him nearly an adult but a child in the eyes of the law.
Police arrested Springsteen-Hensel when he arrived at the middle school that afternoon.
Schwantes said the defense will request probation at the sentencing hearing. Prosecutors will seek prison time.