Monday was going to be a memorable day, but not for the reasons the boy wanted.
Earlier in the day, he had been sitting behind a steering wheel taking—and passing—his driver’s test.
In the afternoon, he was sitting next to a prosecutor in Walworth County Court, speaking at the sentencing hearing for the young men who sexually assaulted him, Brady and Tayler Schoonover.
The boy said he did not want to call the Lake Geneva brothers “human.” He referred to them as “filth” and “demons.” He asked the judge to “give them hell, because they gave me hell.”
And the boy will always remember the day as such.
“I just want to start off, first off … I really don’t want to be here—today of all days,” the boy said. “What should a teenager do on (the day of) his driver’s test when he passed? He should be out there having a blast.
“But no. I’m stuck in here.”
As the gallery gasped and wept, Judge Phil Koss sentenced Tayler to 13 years in prison and another 13 years of extended supervision.
About 45 minutes later, Koss sentenced Brady to 14 years in prison with 14 years of extended supervision. Brady’s Walworth County sentence will run concurrently with the six years of prison he is serving in a Kenosha County case, in which he pleaded guilty in November to second-degree sexual assault of a child.
Tayler, who is now 25, was about 17 or 18 years old during the sexual assaults. A jury on Jan. 24 convicted him of two counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child for having sexual contact with a child younger than 13.
Tayler did not address the court. He maintains his innocence to this day.
“I believe (the boy),” Koss said, looking at Tayler.
Brady, although younger—he is now 23, and he was about 15 or 16 during the sexual assaults—was “worse,” the boy said.
The boy had planned to make only one statement, but he was “happy” with Koss’ sentence for Tayler, so he returned to speak about Brady.
“It’s plagued my mind,” the boy said. “He was the worst. He deserves no chance. He deserves no chance to see his kid.
“I want it to sink in that his child will be calling ‘dad’ to somebody else. I want that to just sink in for him,” he added. “I want him to know what he did was wrong. And it was disgusting. Anybody who tried defending that … I’d say, in my mind, that is a full-fledged sin.”
At the trial, the same jury convicted Brady of three counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child, two of which were for intercourse with a child younger than 12 and the third for having sexual contact with a child younger than 13.
Another difference between the two brothers, however, was that Brady recently admitted what he did. He apologized to the boy in court Monday.
Brady’s attorney, Michael Murphy, used the two differences—Brady’s age and admission of guilt—to argue for a lighter sentence.
The two defendants’ respective ages are what kept Koss from levying harsher sentences, he said. The maximum sentence was 40 years in prison for a single count.
Tayler’s lawyer, Melissa Frost, said her client was quiet but respectful. He has aspirations of working on a dairy farm.
Frost asked Koss for three years in prison for Tayler, pointing out her client’s lack of a criminal history.
But the boy’s mother, who spoke in court, told Koss her son “has been dealt a life sentence” for what the Schoonovers did. She called the day she found out about the assaults, the day she collapsed to the ground in tears, as “single-handedly the worst day of my life.”
The image the boy’s mom described will “remain with me,” Koss said.
In the midst of the #MeToo movement, in which people are urging the public to believe sexual assault survivors and calling for harsher sentences for perpetrators, Koss repeatedly said he believed the boy and praised his courage, strength and poise.
He said the boy is more of a man than Tayler or Brady will ever be.
It wasn’t easy, the boy said.
“It’s a stain I can’t clean off,” he said. “Yes, I am proud of what I said, but I’m not going to lie, it was very embarrassing.”
The boy’s childhood was, to an extent, taken from him, Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo said. The day he got his driver’s license was ruined, she said, but she hopes future milestones—buying a home, getting married and having a child—won’t be.
“(The boy) should never have another milestone tarnished,” she said.
And yet, Monday was still a difficult day. Koss acknowledged that nobody wanted to be at the sentencing hearing.
The boy’s pain hopefully won’t be in vain, Donohoo said.
“I told him after the verdict came in: I believe that because he came forward, there’s some other kid out there, that because of (the boy’s) courage, will have the courage to come forward him- or herself as well,” she said.
“And even if that child can’t come forward, just having read the article and read about what (the boy) did makes that kid feel a little bit less alone.”