By Brandi Makuski
Charges against a young man accused of child sex assault have been dismissed because authorities have been unable to secure the alleged victim’s cooperation.
Jerry Washington, 17, is accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl while on a group trip to the Division St. YMCA on Jan. 29. At the time, Washington was the resident of a local group home but his current address listed on court documents is in Milwaukee.
Portage Co. District Attorney Louis Molepske said his office had “no choice” but to dismiss the case.
“The trial had been set twice, and both times the victim essentially did not show up for trial,” Molepske said. “I can’t try a case without a victim. The defendant has a right to face his accuser.”
Washington’s last trial date had been scheduled for Oct. 19, but was postponed because “the juvenile victim is a runaway and her whereabouts are unknown,” according to court records.
The DA’s Office did everything it could to secure to girl’s cooperation, according to Molepske, including taking her into custody on a material witness warrant. The girl still failed to show up for court.
Molepske said the state did protect its prosecution of the case by dismissing it without prejudice so, “if at any time in the future the victim does want the case prosecuted.”
According to the complaint, the victim said she was in the downstairs workout area between 7 PM and 8 PM when Washington grabbed her hair and “dragged” her into a bathroom near the Teen Night room. Washington locked himself and the girl in a stall furthest from the door, where she claims he assaulted her. The girl told police she said “no” several times and began to yell for help, but Washington told her not to “snitch”.
Both Washington and the girl were visiting the facility from two different group homes in the area, and in an agreement with the YMCA were supposed to have been chaperoned at all times.
In an interview with police, Washington admitted he did grab the girl’s hair but that he was “only playing”, and said he and the girl wound up in the gymnastics room. He initially denied going into the bathroom with the girl, according to the complaint, but later said they went into the bathroom to talk for “about 30 seconds”, then changed his statement to “a few minutes”.
An acquaintance of Washington’s told police he witnessed Washington pull the girl’s hair, and also heard her call to a friend for help as she was being taken into the bathroom. Washington had previously told the acquaintance he was going to have sex with the girl that night. It was not clear in the complaint why the acquaintance did not intervene.
Police also interviewed two adults in the building, who said the YMCA’s security cameras captured Washington pulling the girl into the bathroom and. The girl appeared to be struggling on the video, they said.
Molepske said there’s no statute of limitation on the charge. Both the alleged victim, who is now 15, and Washington currently live in Milwaukee, he said.