That’s how long it will be until 19-year-old Tyler Bartelt can count himself a free man again.
Bartelt, of Eagle River, was sentenced to 12 years of initial confinement Thursday afternoon for the rape of a 15-year-old girl at Motel 6 in the town of Brookfield last August. He will also serve eight years of extended supervision. Bartelt was 18 at the time of the crime.
A sentencing hearing in Waukesha County Circuit Court brought an apology from Bartelt.
“I am sorry to the victim and her family and my family and the community for the anguish I have caused,” Bartelt said. “I need help and treatment. This time I have spent in jail has given me very much time to think and I promise this will never happen again.”
The mother of the victim, whose identity is not being published by Brookfield-Elm Grove Now, spoke of her daughter's struggles since the assault and asked Judge Lee S. Dreyfus Jr. to impose a harsh sentence.
“What Tyler did to her and took away from her is reprehensible. In attacking her he took away her childhood and her innocence,” the mother said. “Since the attack she has dealt with depression and self-harm. She can no longer function normally as she did before.”
The victim’s mother and Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney Michael Thurston both referenced an incident at the victim’s school in which she struck a male student for touching her on the shoulder.
“She won’t even let her father or grandfather give her a hug,” the mother said. “I don’t feel that Tyler should be afforded the privilege of freedom. I don’t think it is fair that Tyler be allowed to live his life normally if (my daughter) can’t.”
Bartelt’s attorney, Robert Buckett, asked the court to impose a sentence of three to four years of initial confinement and referenced Bartelt’s upbringing. Buckett specifically pointed to Bartelt’s father as leading him astray.
“He is right now, by my review, about two years into a prison sentence that is 14 years of initial confinement. The defendant’s father is currently incarcerated for having a sexual relationship with a minor female,” Buckett said. “Mr. Bartelt and his actions have been negatively shaped by the exceedingly poor choices made by his father.”
Buckett also brought up that Bartelt’s accounts of the incident differ strongly from the victim’s.
“Mr. Bartelt told me that he had interacted with (the victim) the evening before, that they had acted in a flirtatious manner, that they had kissed a bit and that they had left things on good terms that evening,” Buckett said.
Buckett noted that Bartelt described the encounter as being “substantially more consensual than (the victim) indicates it was.”
A criminal complaint documented the victim’s account of the crime committed Aug. 10 of last year. According to that complaint, Bartelt was staying at the motel and followed the girl while she was walking her dog. He assaulted her near a pile of tires outside the motel that morning. Police were called early in the afternoon after the victim told her mother what had happened.
Bartelt initially entered a plea of not guilty in September but changed his plea to guilty in February. He will be credited with 253 days already served.
Bartelt also faces charges of first-degree sexual assault with the use of a dangerous weapon and second-degree sexual assault with the use of force in Vilas County and a charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child in Oneida County. The alleged victim in both of those cases was also 15.
Dreyfus referenced that case heavily during the explanation of his decision while also talking about other incidents that occurred while Bartelt was a juvenile.
“We’re talking about multiple instances in multiple places and, ultimately, multiple victims,” Dreyfus said. “We’re talking about 15-year-old victims.”
“The common thread in all of those starting from the very beginning is that there is an aggressive, violent acting out type of behavior that has escalated to the point now of sexual assaults,” Dreyfus said. “Ultimately, we need to protect the community.”
Bartelt will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He has 20 days to appeal Thursday’s ruling.
The maximum sentence Dreyfus could have imposed for the crime of second-degree sexual assault of a child under the age of 16, a Class C felony, was 40 years in prison.