UPDATE: Judge upholds placement of sex offender in Wheatland

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Allan Torhorst has upheld the placement of a sex offender under the supervised release program at a Wheatland residence on Highway 50.

The decision was issued this afternoon. A hearing was held this morning in which both sides in the case presented testimony, but Torhorst did not issue an immediate decision.

Wheatland’s prosecuting attorney Todd Terry said he expects the town to pursue an appeal.

The case relates to the state’s proposed placement of Michael McGee of Racine County in a Wheatland house in the 32200 block of Highway 50 starting May 20. McGee is part of the state Department of Health Services Supervised Release program. The state had not been able to find a residence for McGee in Racine County and was ordered by a Racine County judge to look in Kenosha County. The state contacted the landlord of the Highway 50 home because they had used it for sex offenders before and found it was available. But local government and law enforcement officials mobilized to block the placement, in part because a one year old lives next door to the subject property.

In his decision Tuesday, Torhorst orders the placement take place at the home in the 32200 block of Highway 50 within 10 days.

Torhorst said he did not find merit in any of Kenosha County’s arguments presented Tuesday, including that the court was not previously made aware by the state of the presence of a 1-year-old child next door. From the decision:

The Court concludes that such information, in this case, is not required. McGee does not fall within that class of persons in which his placement by the Department of Health Services requires the Court to be informed of children in the prohibited zone. This position of opposition was also the position of the Racine County District Attorney in opposing the release plan. The Court concludes that since such information is not required by the statute and upon the testimony at the hearing the Court concludes the plan is in conformity with the statute both prior to and after the enactment of 2015 Act 156.”

Torhorst’s decision is available here.

Here is some coverage of Tuesday’s hearing from Earlene Frederick, who was reporting for westofthei.com:

Corporation Counsel Jennifer Kopp represented Kenosha County. She went through the questions raised by Kenosha County.

Robert Peterson, attorney for Michael McGee, argued that the state met the requirements.

Peter Rank, DHS, argued that the department complied with the statute.

Sheriff David Beth described the area and testified that it was not an appropriate placement. One of the main points of contention was the bike path. Under Kenosha County ordinance a bike path is a county park. That would make the house ineligible, because it would have to be 1,500 feet away. It was argued that under Act 156, a bike path is not a park and it supersedes the county ordinance.

Angela Serwa, DHS, wrote the supervisory report. She is the person who determined that a 1 year old next door was not a pertinent piece of information for the court. She said it wasn’t statutorily required.

Cross examination by Robert Peterson. She explains why the accusation that Michael McGee sexually assaulted his nephew is not pertinent.

Mark Smith-Rogers, father of the 1 year old next door, talked about all the young people who come to his house.

Dr. Stephen Kopetskie, is court assessment, community programs director at Sand Ridge Treatment Center who is an administrator and supervisor for the evaluation unit, treatment evaluators, and the supervisory release program. There are 28 offenders waiting for placement.

Detective David Smith wrote the report on the residence.

Heather Beasy, county victim witness coordinator, testified about her contact with DHS and her ability to get information.

Changes in state legislation have overridden all local ordinances concerning placement. Act 156, which modified Statute 980. Local law enforcement is contacted to submit a report on the residence. They have what is called a core meeting to express concerns, but the state writes the report, selects the location and who will go there.

The fact that a one year old child lives next door was not included in the supervisory report. It was determined to not be relevant to this offender, since the person he is convicted of assaulting was an adult female.  They classify offenders into different groups. Thus, concerns about children do not meet statutory criteria.

Kenosha County Ordinance

(3) “Park” or “Parks” means all lands, waters, and property
here¬to¬fore and here-after acquired by the county for park or
recreational purposes and placed under the jurisdiction of the
Parks Division of the Kenosha County Department of Public Works
and shall include, without limitation, parks, beaches, parkways,
boulevards, pleasure drives, golf courses, bicycle trails and
privately owned lands, the use of which has been granted to the
county for parks, recreational or like purposes.



  1. West of 45 Citizen says:

    This is indeed a sad day for Wheatland Citizens. The law must change to reflect the rightful objections of the will of the people of this community overruled by a “foreign” judge. Any sex crime committed by McGee while in his placement in Wheatland, will be “blood” on the hands of Judge Torhorst.

  2. Bernard Punsley says:

    Read the judge’s decision again folks….he is merely following the LAW that was passed in 2015, Act 156. In layman’s terms, the “sex offender” is not considered a “child molester”. Perhaps Samantha Kerkman and Van Wangard could explain how they helped pass this law, expound upon the merits of it for us. Sad.

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