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May 25, 2018

5/15/2018 7:29:00 AM
Minocqua man draws jail, probation for child sexual assault
Jamie Taylor/River News

Nathan Warbalow enters the Oneida County Branch I courtroom May 8 for his sentencing hearing.
Jamie Taylor/River News

Nathan Warbalow enters the Oneida County Branch I courtroom May 8 for his sentencing hearing.
Jamie Taylor
of the River News

A 26-year-old Minocqua man charged with two counts of first-degree child sexual assault (sexual contact with a person under age 13) was sentenced Wednesday to one year in jail and more than seven years probation after finalizing a plea agreement in Oneida County Circuit Court.

Nathan D. Warbalow was charged with the two class B felonies on Jan. 3, 2017 and bound over for trial after a preliminary hearing Jan. 18, 2017. After resolving several motions, Judge Patrick O'Melia set the case for trial beginning Feb. 20, 2018.

On that date, Warbalow entered a no contest plea to one count of first-degree child sexual assault and one count of causing a child under 13 to view or listen to a sex act, a class F felony.

O'Melia ordered a pre-sentence investigation and set the matter for sentencing May 8.

Per the plea agreement, district attorney Mike Schiek and Warbalow's attorney Elizabeth Svehlek were to recommend O'Melia defer entry of judgment on the more serious charge, withhold sentence on the second count and place Warbalow on probation for 7.5 years.

Warbalow could have been ordered to serve a maximum 12.5 year prison sentence, with a maximum of 7.5 years incarceration, on the lesser charge. In addition, if he violates any of the conditions of probation before completing the entire sentence, he could be sentenced to the maximum penalty for the class B felony.

The case dates back to December 2016.

According to the criminal complaint, the Oneida County sheriff's office received two referrals from the Woodruff Police Department and Oneida County Department of Social Services on Dec. 28, 2016 after WPD was contacted by the father of one of the alleged victims that same day.

On Dec. 29, an investigator and social worker interviewed the two victims, ages 8 and 7. The girls reported Warbalow encouraged them to pull down his pants and fondled one of them.

After being arrested, Warbalow was questioned by a detective from the sheriff's department and a social worker. He initially denied the allegations, but later admitted the events did happen.

On Jan. 13, 2017, Warbalow was charged with two counts of lewd, lascivious behavior (exposure) in Vilas County Circuit Court. Those charges, both misdemeanors, arose from incidents where Warbalow was observed by customers at his place of employment engaging in obscene behavior. He reached a plea agreement in that case and was sentenced to a year probation.

At the Oneida County sentencing on May 8, Svehlek called the author of the Department of Corrections pre-sentence investigation report to testify about her recommendation. She wanted to know why the agent made a prison recommendation above what was called for based on the low recidivism risk assigned to Warbalow by two separate doctors who conducted psychosexual evaluations of him.

The agent testified that additional factors, other than the recidivism risk, are taken into consideration when arriving at a sentencing recommendation.

Svehlek noted the mental health treatment Warbalow needs would best be delivered to him outside of a prison environment.

While the recommended sentence spared the two young victims from having to testify in court, Schiek stressed the aggravated nature of the offenses. One of the victims was the child of a neighbor who Warbalow was watching for the parents, he noted.

"I can think of a no more aggravated situation where you trust your own child in the hands of a person while you are at work and you're busy and trying to try and make their lives better, and then find out that the very person that you entrusted to care for that child has been conducting the behavior that is explained within those reports," Schiek said. "Really just for the gratification of the defendant."

Schiek admitted he had some difficulty understanding the scores Warbalow received on the two psychosexual evaluations. He stressed that those scores rely heavily on someone giving the evaluator the correct information and noted the court has the police interviews with Warbalow where he "fully admits" to what happened with both the girls and in the Vilas County incidents.

"It is difficult to know if all of that information was presented (to the doctors)," Schiek said, adding the hope is the threat of a prison sentence will be enough to keep Warbalow from reoffending.

Svehlek and Schiek agreed that state statutes in this case call for Warbalow to register as a sex offender for 15 years, beginning after his probation is completed.

Given his chance to speak, Warbalow offered an apology.

"I would like to apologize especially to the victims, and I would like to let them know it's not their fault," Warbalow said. "It's my fault."

O'Melia said the crimes Warbalow was charged with in Oneida County were aggravated because he was in a position of trust over the victims when the conduct occurred. He agreed this also affects the parents of the victims.

"They must be horrified that they placed their child in your hands when this occurred," O'Melia noted, before adding some of the factors which must be taken into considering at sentencing weigh in Warbalow's favor.

"The idea of probation, under the sentencing guidelines, is the preferred sentence," O'Melia noted. "Unless confinement is necessary for the public's protection."

Treatment in a community setting is the most appropriate sentence for Warbalow, he concluded.

"I send him to prison for eight years, four-and-four, and he gets out after four. Without treatment, he's more likely to offend, in my opinion, then someone who has been getting treatment locally," he said.

He then sentenced Warbalow to four years in prison, followed by four years extended supervision, stayed that sentenced and placed him on probation for 7.5 years, with one year in jail with Huber to allow for treatment. He also ordered Warbalow must register as a sex offender for 15 years after he finishes his probation sentence.

Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at jamie@rivernewsonline.com.

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