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Former Langlade County deputy faces sentencing on sex charge at April hearing
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A former Langlade County sheriff’s deputy faces up to 40 years in prison after pleading guilty to second-degree sexual assault of a child.

Michael Brayton, 26, of Gleason appeared in Marathon County Circuit Court Monday, agreeing to a plea bargain that saw him admit to guilt on one charge in return for 21 other felonies being dismissed.

Sentencing is slated for April 11.

The case was heard in Wausau by Marathon County Circuit Judge Michael Moran after Langlade County Judge Fred Kawalski and District Attorney Ralph Uttke recused themselves from the proceedings.

Brayton was charged in July 2012 with 22 felonies, including sexual assault of a child, child enticement and exposing genitals in incidents with four girls ages 15 to 18, authorities said.

The special prosecutor for the case, Marathon County Assistant District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon, said Brayton's guilty plea involves a 15-year-old girl in which there was sexual contact.

In the charges involving the other three girls, Brayton was accused of sending pictures of his genitals in text messages, Wetzsteon said. Those charges became problematic after a recent state appeals court ruling which determined that sending a picture of genitals to a child is not “exposing” them as required for the law.

“There could have been other charges pursued but given his plea to the 40-year felony, it didn't get that far,” Wetzsteon said.

Brayton’s attorney, Hank Schultz, said the plea agreement includes no sentencing recommendations for Brayton, allowing attorneys to argue what they believe is appropriate.

Brayton was employed as a Langlade County deputy from July 2008 until June 11, 2012, when he resigned. Sheriff Bill Greening has said none of the alleged crimes happened while Brayton was on duty.

The original charges were linked to incidents with area girls ranging in age from 18 to 15.

The 32-page complaint, written by the Marathon County district attorney’s office, outlines a pattern of behavior with younger girls and heavy use of the electronic media, including Facebook and text-messaging.

According to the complex document, Brayton and the girls became friendly and then the relationships escalated in 2011 and 2012 to include trading sexually explicit photographs and, in several instances, actual physical contact with one of the girls.

In their various statements, one of the girls noted she was initially flattered by the attention from an older guy, but then began to feel it was wrong.

In his statements to investigators, Brayton said he took full responsibility for his actions and that nothing ever occurred while he was on duty as a sheriff deputy.

He also stressed that the sexual activity did not involve any use of force or alcohol.

“Either way I’m an adult,” Brayton is quoted as saying in the complaint. “It’s my fault, it’s my decision and you live with the consequences. I’m 100 percent guilty.”


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Michael Brayton, with attorney Hank Schultz, during an appearance in Langlade County Court.
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