Release of repeat child sex offender pending as officials search for appropriate residence
By Brandi Makuski
Officials from Portage Co. are trying to find a suitable location for the county’s only designated sexually violent person.
Charles Anderson, 74, has completed his criminal sentence and is approved for release from an institution that treats violent sex offenders. Initially, he’d been slated to move into a State Hwy. 49 home in the Town of Alban, but a Portage Co. judge denied that request, saying it was too close to the town’s only community center — the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative building, located at 10401 Lystul Road.
According to court records, Judge Thomas Flugaur ruled the Dept. of Health Services — the department charged with overseeing transitions out of involuntary commitments like Anderson’s — has to find a different location in Portage Co. for the convicted sex offender to live.
Portage Co. District Attorney Louis Molepske said it’s possible a suitable residence won’t be found inside the county, forcing DHS to look elsewhere in the state.
“But the judge would have to hear the reasons why; then make a finding to be able to order a statewide search,” Molpske said by phone on Jan. 6. “But at this point, [the judge] has said they need to find him a suitable location in Portage County.”
Anderson was declared a “sexually violent person” in 2005, when the DA’s office petitioned a Portage Co. judge to have him committed to a state facility for Wisconsin’s worst sex offenders. Anderson was convicted in 1997 after pleading guilty to second-degree sexual assault of a child.
He was sentenced to five years in prison and 10 years of probation.
Anderson is still a resident of Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, his home since being committed more than a decade ago as a sexually violent person, also known as a Chapter 980 offender. Under the 1994 state law, the designation can be legally applied following a courtroom process to offenders who are “more likely than not to commit a future act of sexual violence over the lifetime of the person.”
“We’ve never had a 980 release, from this county, before,” Molepske said.
According to the criminal complaint, a male victim from Portage Co. came forward in 1997 to accuse Anderson of sexually abusing him at the age of 11 in 1991. Anderson was the boy’s baseball coach, according to the complaint, and also was active at the YMCA, where the boy said Anderson would touch boys sexually in the pool and the shower, and also during visits to Anderson’s Second St. home over the summer.
Before coming to Wisconsin, Anderson was convicted of molesting at least three children in Arizona and California between 1979 and 1981. Following his move to Wisconsin, Anderson worked as a licensed teacher at several Central Wisconsin schools, to include St. Adalbert Catholic School near Rosholt.
According to court records, Anderson admitted during his 1997 allocution to having abused over 100 children.
After several unsuccessful attempts, Anderson’s application for supervised release from Sand Ridge was approved in 2015. Since then, state and county officials have been tasked with finding a suitable residence for him.
Under the Chapter 980 law, a sexually violent person can only reside in a pre-approved rental home located at least 1500 feet away from a school, youth center, day care, church or public park.
According to Shaun Morrow from the Dept. of Probation and Parole, rural homes are often a target for placing offenders.
“Because of their distance from day cares, youth centers, churches and things like that, rural communities are often where a sexually violent person would be released,” Morrow said during a public meeting on sex offender release laws held in Alban on Jan. 5. “The rules are created by the [state] legislature so it’s not something we control, we just enforce the law.”
Morrow added released 980 offenders must follow a lengthy list of strict rules, and for “at least the first year” are not allowed to leave the home — not even to the mailbox on the curb — without what he called a “minder”: a state-employed chaperone who accompanies offenders to appointments which have been pre-approved by a case worker. The offenders are constantly monitored via electronic ankle bracelets and a GPS system, Morrow added.
Anderson returns to court later this month, only weeks after residents in Alban learned another 980 offender — convicted West Bend rapist Peter Yogerst — was to be placed in the State Hwy. 49 home; the ruling of a judge from Washington County.
A second 980 offender, Jason Staves, has a hearing scheduled in Feb. for consideration of his supervised placement in the same house. That order, if approved, would come from a judge in Chippewa Co., where Staves was convicted on two counts of child sex assault in 1993.
“Unfortunately, the way the [state] statute is written, one judge in another county does not have to abide by another judge’s ruling, so they could have different opinions on the same property,” Molepske said.
Another part of the problem, Molepske added, is while the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative building is used to hold community events, it doesn’t necessarily meet the state’s definition of an off-limits location for a sex offender.
“I think it meets the definition of a ‘youth center’, and they do have bible study there,” Molepske said, “but since it’s not a licensed child care facility and doesn’t hold religious services, it doesn’t meet the state’s definition. But the town has their meetings there, and they use the grounds like a playground, so [the building] is really close [to the state’s definition].”
Molepske added he believes Flugaur ruled against Anderson living at the property, which is located across the street from CWEC, because it is used for many activities involving children on a regular basis, to include, he said, “birthday parties, baby showers and Boy Scout meetings”.
Molepske did not immediately know what other potential locations could be considered for Anderson’s placement.
Anderson’s next court appearance is a motion hearing scheduled for 10:30 AM on Jan. 17 in Portage Co. Circuit Court Branch III.