A juvenile counselor accused of having 200 child pornography photos on his computer, facing a maximum sentence of 125 years in prison, got off with no jail time at all, didn’t have to register as a sex offender, and was allowed to continue to work around minors.
That 2014 deal by Waukesha County District Attorney Brad Schimel earned a place today on the “Brad Schimel Wall of Shame,” the Democratic Party of Wisconsin announced. Details
are on the website, featuring Schimel’s worst decisions and cases: schimelswallofshame.tumblr.com
“Schimel will try to squirm out of responsibility and blame someone else, but he bears the responsibility,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said on Monday. “Schimel caved in and didn’t even try to get the court to consider the evidence. No wonder the defense attorney said the plea deal was ‘very favorable to my client.’
Robert R. Turk, 37, a juvenile counselor at an adolescent center, originally was charged with five felony counts of possession of child pornography, each carrying a mandatory minimum prison term of three years and a maximum of 25 years. He could have been sentenced to 125 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. Instead, Schimel agreed to a plea bargain that let Turk off with no jail time but three years of probation with nine months of work release. The deal also allowed him to avoid registering as a sex offender and to continue working at the center and have “incidental” contact with minors.
The case was one of those in which the Wisconsin Attorney General’s office failed to follow up on tips about online pornography from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children; this case, involving 200 images of child pornography, waited two years before it was referred from the state Dept. of Justice to the Waukesha County sheriff’s office.
The sheriff’s office obtained a search warrant and found evidence on Turk’s computer, and he admitted to downloading the photos. Turk’s defense lawyer challenged the search warrant on the grounds that it was “stale” and based on old information, and asked to have the evidence thrown out.
Schimel didn’t contest the issue and let a judge decide whether to admit the evidence, despite a Federal District Court ruling that said: “Staleness is to be determined on the facts of each case. A finding of staleness . . .can depend upon the nature of the unlawful activity, and when the information of the affidavit clearly shows a long-standing, ongoing pattern of criminal activity, even if fairly long periods of time have lapsed between the information and the issuance of the warrant. Information a year old is not necessarily stale as a matter of law, especially where child pornography is concerned.” – [U.S. v. Silva, 2009 WL 1606453 (U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas 2009]
Schimel caved in and made a deal that the defense attorney called “very favorable to my client.” Schimel’s office would not comment to the media afterward.
“Tips on Wisconsin child porn cases took years to investigate”, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 3/1/14