The State must prove two elements for Sexual Assault of a Child:
- That you had a sexual contact, and/or intercourse with the victim
- That the victim was under the age of 13 years (First Degree Sexual Assault), or 16 years (Second Degree Sexual Assault of a Child), at the time of the alleged sexual contact/intercourse
Sexual contact is the touching of any part of your body, or any object you control, to any of the other persons “intimate parts” (breasts, penis, anus, buttocks or vagina). The State must show that this was done with the intent to gain sexual satisfaction or to humiliate the victim. The touching may be over or under clothing.
You cannot use the defense that you did not know the victim’s age, or that you mistakenly judged the victim’s age, thinking him/her to be older than he/she really was. Also, stating that an underage victim consented to have sexual contact/intercourse with you is not a viable defense as minors are considered legally incapable to give consent.
The charge changes to Second Degree Sexual Assault of a child if the child was 14-16 years old. From ages 16-18, it is a Fourth Degree Sexual Assault (a misdemeanor). A caregiver can also be charged with a felony for the failure to prevent such assaults if the caregiver knew that the abuse was occurring.
Sexual Assault of a Child is a highly sensitive offense that is falsely charged in many instances. Bathing, or playful contact such as a pat on the behind, can be misinterpreted as sexual contact. In bitter divorce cases, one parent might make powerful assault accusations to try to discredit the other parent and gain custody and placement rights.
Making such cases even more difficult is the fact that false allegations can become true in the child’s mind with repeated interviews by parents, police, prosecutors, social workers, and treatment professionals, who tend to reaffirm even false accusations to the point where the child actually believes that some incident occurred. This troubling phenomenon has sent many innocent people to prison.
Wisconsin penalties for Sexual Assault of a Child:
First degree: Mandatory Life Sentence
Second degree: 40 years prison (Maximum)
Fourth degree: 9 months jail (Maximum)
Caregiver failure to prevent assaults: 7.5 years prison (Maximum)