Mueller's Lake incident brings 10-year sentence|
|Langlade County Judge Fred Kawalski sentenced an Antigo man Tuesday to serve 10 years in prison, explaining that based on the defendant's pattern of behavior, he was “convinced” he would commit similar crimes “if given the chance.”|
“I fear it will be business as usual,” the judge said in his ruling for 58-year-old Victor Havenga.
Havenga received the sentence after being found guilty at trial in February of three counts — two for false imprisonment and another for disorderly conduct. A third false imprisonment count was dismissed prior to the start of trial.
All involved actions committed in June of 2013 at Mueller’s Lake in Polar. At trial, the youngsters told jurors that they were frightened by Havenga’s presence at the lake even to the point that one of the children told his mother that he “feared being kidnapped.”
Law officers were advised of possible inappropriate hugging and touching and according to the children’s statements, Havenga refused to allow them to leave the dock as he would “block or stall” them. It wasn’t until one of the children was able to slip away and call an adult that all were able to leave the area.
“This is a difficult case as no one got hurt. There was no physical injury,” District Attorney Ralph Uttke said. “But there was some trauma and we may never know the extent of that trauma.”
Havenga's criminal history played large in the court's ruling.
“If we look at this case in a vacuum it doesn't seem like much but we must look at his history,” Uttke said. “It is one of the worst I have ever seen.”
With charges stretching back four decades, Havenga has racked up nearly a dozen convictions for similar behavior in three states, Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois, with charges in a fourth, Indiana, still pending. All involved incidents of inappropriate behavior with children at public places, typically at beaches, pools or other swimming areas.
In addition to the most recent Langlade County case, Mueller's Lake was the site of two prior incidents during the early 1990s – one in which Havenga was accused of pulling a female under water, causing her to gasp for air, and another involving the grabbing of a teen-age girl's breast while she was in the water, resulting in a conviction for first degree sexual assault.
Similar behavior against the former semi-truck driver was reported in the Michigan and Illinois cases.
As for the Indiana case, Uttke said a warrant remains on the books for Havenga's arrest on allegations raised by four girls. They include reports of inappropriate touching or grabbing as well as claims that Havenga held one of the girls under water against her will.
Uttke said that despite the defendant's lengthy record and pattern of behavior, Havenga has shown no remorse for his actions. He explained that Havenga has attributed his continued wranglings with the legal system as the result of being “bullied” by law enforcement and he has refused sexual offender treatment.
“He is a very dangerous man and is at a high risk to reoffend,” Uttke said. “The safety of the public demands that this man be incarcerated as long as possible.”
Defense attorney James Wedemayer argued against Uttke's recommended 12-year term, instead asking for a shorter three year sentence, advising that treatment could be provided outside a prison setting.
“Mr. Uttke is suggesting to lock him up and throw away the key,” Wedemayer said, stressing that his client was “not violent” and “alternatives” were available.
In his ruling, Judge Kawalski traced the criteria for sentencing, explaining that a balance must be reached as to the seriousness of the offense, the defendant's character and the need for protection of the community.
“The past penalties seemingly had no impact,” Kawalski said in reference to the series of jail, prison and probation terms ordered in previous cases.
“You appear to lack impulse control and are like a moth to a flame,” he added, noting Havenga's pattern of being drawn to similar circumstances, all involving children. “I need to impose a sentence that will provide for protection of the community.”
The 10 years of imprisonment will be followed by five years of extended supervision under the Department of Corrections. He will be allowed credit for 339 days time served while the case was pending.
As condition of his supervision, Havenga must refrain from contact with victims in the case as well as having no contact with minors. His prior convictions have already placed him on the state's sex offender registry and he must continue to abide by their strict supervisory conditions.
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