A Wisconsin teen, who prosecutors called a monster, will spend more than a dozen years in prison for raping an 86-year-old woman.
Sixteen-year-old Christopher E. Brooks Jr., of Beloit, Wisconsin, was sentenced to 15 years behind bars September 14. He was initially charged with burglary while committing battery, aggravated battery of an elderly person, and second-degree sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to the third charge as part of a plea agreement. The other charges were dropped.
The conviction stems from an incident that took place on July 23, 2016, inside the victim’s home. Rock County Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan told Judge Michael Haakenson the crime was an “act of savagery,” and asked the court to put Brooks away for 25 years, the maximum under Wisconsin law. Not only did the teen force himself sexually upon the victim, the prosecutor noted, he beat her with her cane, causing multiple bruises and cuts. He also bit her chest, a wound confirmed by a DNA test.
The woman pretended to be unconscious during the assault.
“If this doesn’t call for a maximum sentence, we might as well not have maximum sentences,” Sullivan told the judge.
Haakenson was hard-lined but expressed empathy for the young offender. He isn’t the monster described by the state, the judge said. Brooks has potential but needs help so he can return to society.
“When you get out, you need to apply those tools so we don’t see you again,” Haakenson said. “At least we don’t want to see you in the criminal system.”
Haakenson’s sentence does not allow Brooks to participate in prison programs that would qualify him for early release. To be paroled, Brooks will have to petition another judge.
Unlike random street crimes, Brooks knew his victim. The boy was an often-important part of her life. He was one of several neighbors who looked after her and helped carry groceries into her house, a chore for which she paid him. On that fateful day last year, Brooks decided to take more than the wages he earned assisting an elderly, hard-of-hearing woman get along in the world. It was the day authorities say he displayed a level of behavior seen only in the pages of a horror story.
Robbery was the motive, the state said. The physical and sexual assault came as the result of the angry monster Sullivan says lives inside Brooks, a side of him from which the community needs to be protected.
“It just happened,” Brooks said of the sexual assault.
Defense lawyer Ashley Morse held back tears as she told the court that although he committed a horrific act, Brooks is still a child. The state didn’t see it that way. While only 15 when the crime occurred, he had already been drinking heavily, smoking marijuana, and had at least 20 sexual partners. Morse did not refute that her client was living a reckless life, but because his brain is not fully developed, he should be treated differently than adult offenders who are better equipped to make sound decisions about their impulses. That is why she asked for a five-year sentence, what he would have received had he been charged as a juvenile.
Brooks was given credit for 418 days time served.
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