Prison for three years: Ex-officer sentenced today|
Marathon County Judge Michael Moran noted a man’s remorse as sincere, stating he was “moved by the fact that he has taken responsibility for his actions,” but stressed punishment was needed in sentencing a former Langlade County sheriff’s deputy today to three years in prison for misdeeds involving juvenile girls.
Michael Brayton, 26, of Gleason was remanded to custody after the two-hour-plus hearing which attracted a crowd to the Langlade County courtroom.
He had risked being sentenced to a 40-year term after pleading guilty in January to a felony count of second degree sexual assault of a child. A plea bargain allowed 21 other felonies to be dismissed.
“This is a serious offense that the public takes very seriously,” Moran said, explaining that he had given much consideration to the case including taking into account the recommendations of both the state and defense.
Special prosecutor Theresa Wetzsteon, an assistant district attorney in Marathon County, had recommended an 11-year stay followed by eight years of supervision.
Brayton’s counsel, Attorney Henry Schultz of Crandon, had asked for much less, advising that a lighter term, including an extended term of probation, was a more suitable sentence.
In addressing the defendant from the bench, Judge Moran advised that the goal of his sentence was to insure that Brayton would never again engage in such criminal behavior. He noted the defendant’s profession at the time of the offense, stating that he was in a position of trust, but stressed that it should “not be a stain on law enforcement” as it was Brayton himself who committed the act.
He also noted the defendant’s support by a multitude of family and friends and Brayton’s own remorse and rehabilitative efforts, explaining that he hoped his ruling, which was far less than what prosecutors had recommended, would “not take away his potential” from again being a contributing member of society.
“I hope you take this opportunity to redeem yourself,” Moran said.
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 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. 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.
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.”
The prison term will be followed by seven years of supervision by the Department of Corrections.
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