Wheatland and county fighting sex offender placement

Constable Bob Santelli addresses the meeting Wednesday at Wheatland Town Hall.

Constable Bob Santelli addresses the meeting Wednesday at Wheatland Town Hall.

A standing room only crowd at Wheatland Town Hall was told Wednesday that there is a good chance the placement of two men convicted of sex offenses against children will not take place in Wheatland.

“I’d be willing to bet it’s not going to happen,” Sheriff David Beth told the crowd. “For everything I know, it’s not going to happen.”

Last week, a plan by the state Department of Health Services to place two convicted child sex offenders on supervised release to a residence came to the attention of Wheatland Constable Bob Santelli, who brought together local and county officials to oppose the placement.

Deputy District Attorney Michael Graveley said the state has asked that a court order of placement of a Milwaukee County offender to a Wheatland address be withdrawn because a one year old lives next door.  Kenosha County will be arguing in Racine County Circuit Court Wednesday against a placement of a Racine County offender to the same residence, he added.

The state still feels the Racine County offender’s placement is allowable because the offender, though convicted of assaulting a child, was convicted before 1990 and therefore does not fit a state statute’s definition of a serious child sex offender, explained Jason Cram of the DHS supervisory release program.

County and Wheatland officials feel that reasoning is flawed and they plan to make their argument in court Wednesday in Racine. They plan to point out the residency of the 1 year old next door, which the state did not disclose, Graveley said.

“I believe when that fact comes to light that this decision will be overturned,” Graveley said.

Wheatland prosecuting attorney Todd Terry said “We certainly are not leaving any stone unturned. I don’t want to pat anyone on the back yet, we have a way to go, but we’re trying hard as hell.”

After about 30 minutes of comments from Santelli, Cram, Graveley and others, questions submitted by audience members on index cards were read by Santelli and answered by whoever felt comfortable addressing them. The meeting ended about 8 p.m.

Graveley said he and many of the others involved have been working on addressing this situation since last Friday.

“We literally have done nothing else for three days,” Graveley said.

While Terry, Graveley and Beth were all confident their case will prevail, they could not guarantee success,they all said. But legal appeals are planned if Racine County Circuit Court Judge Allan B Torhorst lets the placement move forward, Terry said.

Graveley also said it would be helpful if community members wrote letters to Torhorst expressing in a respectful manner their objections to the placement .


One Comment

  1. George Bailitz says:

    Can the help of our State Representative be asked on this issue?

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