Liberal Wisconsin Supreme Court candidate Janet Protasiewicz gave no additional prison time to a serial child sex offender who assaulted an underage girl while on parole, despite courtroom pleas from the victim and victim's mother.
Alfonso McCormick, then 41, was charged with groping a 15-year-old in 2020, while out on parole for a prior child sex conviction. But Protasiewicz, the circuit court judge overseeing the 2020 case, declined to sentence McCormick to more jail time than the three years he was already required to serve when his parole was revoked.
According to court records, McCormick was attending a family party at the victim's house when he "asked how old she was" and she "told him she was 15." He then "grabbed her arm [and] pulled her into the bathroom," where he fondled her chest and asked her to take off her shirt. The girl managed to escape the room and told other adults, who called the police.
"I personally feel like three years is not enough," said the victim in an emotional courtroom address during the sentencing hearing. "I feel I have complete panic attacks because I have a guard up."
The case adds to a growing list of sexual assault cases in which convicted assailants walked out of Protasiewicz's courtroom with little or no prison time—including one in which a sex offender went on to kill a woman in a drunk driving crash. Protasiewicz's record has been under fire from her conservative judicial opponent, Dan Kelly. The April 4 race between the two, which will decide the ideological breakdown of the swing state's top court, could have national implications for the 2024 presidential elections and has already broken U.S. spending records for state judiciary campaigns.
Protasiewicz said this week that she was sometimes forced to issue light sentences in cases in which victims were afraid to appear in court.
"In sexual assault cases, those are challenging cases," said Protasiewicz during a debate with Kelly on Tuesday. "Those victims frequently don't want to come to court. There are frequent recantations."
At the time of the 2020 incident, McCormick was out on parole for a 1995 first-degree sexual assault conviction involving a "much younger child," for which he had served around 16 years in prison, according to court records. After the 2020 assault, an administrative court revoked McCormick's parole and ordered him to return to jail for an additional three years and three months.
Wisconsin prosecutors also picked up the case. In 2021, McCormick pleaded guilty to child enticement, a charge that carries up to 25 years in prison in Wisconsin. Protasiewicz sentenced him to three years in prison to serve concurrently with the parole revocation sentence, meaning it would not add jail time to what he was already serving.
Protasiewicz said she believed the sentence was fair because the prosecution didn't conduct forensic interviews with the victim and might have difficulty proving the case in a trial.
The victim addressed the courtroom and her assailant during the March 2021 sentencing hearing, saying she felt the justice system viewed her case as unimportant.
"I feel like if [I] was somebody else's daughter we would take it a little more harder … or if I was somebody personally somebody knew," she said.
The girl's mother also pleaded with Protasiewicz to give McCormick a longer sentence, asking the court to imagine if the victim was "one of your daughters, and this person just kept doing the same crime over and over and over."
"He should not be on the streets at all, period," she said. "Three years is nothing because, obviously, if you look at his rap sheet, he already been in trouble for the same situation with a child."
The woman said her daughter feared being around men since the assault and even attempted suicide.
"All they giving you is three years? You totally messed up my child's mind literally," said the mother, addressing McCormick in the courtroom.