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Milwaukee-area man faces charges from childhood incidents

A man from the Milwaukee area will have to answer to charges that stem from a series of incidents 13 years ago, when he was just 11 years old. The Greenfield, Wisconsin man, now 24, has been accused of the sexual assault of his stepsister when she was 5 years old.

The victim told police that the incidents of abuse began in 1999. According to the young woman, her stepbrother would encourage her to play a game that led him to assault her. The incidents continued on a regular basis, she said, always in their home or the home of a relative. She told police that her stepbrother would regularly stress to her that the game was "our secret." The woman said another incident happened three years later, in which her stepbrother told her they would have a "sleepover." She said he assaulted her as the two both lay under a blanket.

Although there is no statute of limitations when it comes to a sex crime of this type, the man is accused of committing the offense when he was a child himself. His young age certainly doesn't justify his actions if the allegations are true, but it does put the crimes in a different context. It could be argued that the defendant, as a prepubescent boy, lacked the ability to truly grasp the harmful nature of his actions. And with no other reported incidents or similar offenses on his record, he's undoubtedly matured as he's grown into an adult, as we all do.

Would a lengthy prison sentence and registration as a sex offender truly be appropriate for a crime that a child committed 13 years ago? His defense attorney is likely to argue no. If the man does admit to the offenses, perhaps a better measure would be a restorative justice program that allows him to acknowledge and apologize to the victim for his actions, rather than simply be put behind bars.

Source: Greenfield Patch, "Greenfield Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting Step Sister," Joe Petrie, April 11, 2012

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