Outagamie County Judge Orders Unwanted Restitution in Sexual Assault Case, Drawing Controversy and Criticism

Outagamie County Judge Vincent Biskupic has ordered a man convicted of sexually assaulting a minor to pay $150,000 in restitution to the county for mental health services, despite the county’s decision not to request any money out of concern for retraumatizing the victim. The victim, who had just turned 18, tragically passed away unexpectedly eight months after the sentencing. This case highlights the challenges and limited success in reporting and prosecuting sexual assault cases, with only 31% of assaults being reported, 5% of perpetrators being arrested, and just 2.8% of cases resulting in felony convictions, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network.

During the sentencing, Assistant District Attorney Julie DuQuaine expressed concerns about the teenager’s deteriorating mental health after the trial, describing it as a “complete deconstruction.” Restitution is intended to make crime victims whole, and while the victim or prosecutor could have requested restitution in this case, neither did so. Despite the county’s initial decision not to seek any amount, Judge Biskupic ordered the $150,000 restitution to be paid to the county.

Legal experts have criticized Judge Biskupic’s approach to restitution as unusual and improper. One law professor described him as an activist judge who inserts himself into cases in inappropriate ways. Concerns have also been raised about the potential for judges or district attorneys to use restitution as a means to fill government coffers.

The privacy of the survivor was also violated in this case. The judge ordered the retrieval of records about the survivor’s well-being from a separate juvenile case, even after the prosecutor failed to receive any information from the survivor herself. This intrusion raises red flags and has been criticized for denying the survivor agency in the restitution process.

The amount of restitution ordered by Judge Biskupic, $150,000, is considered significant and exceeds the maximum fine allowed for the crime by $50,000. The order requires the perpetrator to pay for the survivor’s future therapy costs and reimburse the county for past payments made for counseling and treatment. This sets a potentially dangerous precedent and raises concerns about the financial burden placed on offenders.

Ultimately, this case highlights the complexities and controversies surrounding restitution in cases of sexual assault. It remains to be seen whether an appellate court will determine if Judge Biskupic’s ruling falls within the bounds of the law. What is clear is that restorative justice must consider the input and agency of survivors while balancing the financial obligations of offenders.

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