News Article Details

Sex offender sent back to Mendota Mental Health Institute

Leader-Telegram - 10/27/2017

Oct. 27--CHIPPEWA FALLS -- A former Stanley resident who was convicted of sex assault in 2012 appeared in Chippewa County Court on Thursday, where his supervised conditional release from a halfway home was revoked after he was caught with a secure digital memory card that possessed images of females.

Walter J. Lange, 43, formerly of 402 1/2 N. Broadway St., was convicted of sexual assault of a child in Chippewa County Court, after he was caught having sex with a minor female. He pleaded guilty, but not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect.

Lange was residing at Campbell House, a halfway home in Dane County, for the past two years. He previously was held at Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison for a total of two years between two stays there.

Judge James Isaacson said that more than 100 homes were looked at for placement for Lange. He said the violations warrant him being placed back in Mendota.

"He has messed up that attempt to try and rehabilitate himself," Isaacson said.

Heather Luhman, probation agent with the state Department of Corrections, wrote a letter to the court outlining violations of Lange's conditional release.

"He had possession of a SD card, and on that card was an image of a minor female," Luhman told Isaacson.

Lange took the card, chewed and swallowed it, so corrections staff weren't able to see what other images might have been on it.

"Staff were able to gain possession of his (PlayStation 3) player, and it had images on it," Luhman said. Lange had the only access to that gaming system and was the only person who knew the code to use it to get online, she added.

The images were of adult women in bikinis, as well as juveniles.

"He is a registered sex offender," Luhman said. "It is concerning he has pictures of minor females. It is concerning that he has pictures, with his past conviction of sex with a minor."

Carrie Danz, a Campbell House worker, saw Luhman eat and destroy the SD card. She asked him why he did it.

"He told me he had several other pictures of nude women, nude people," Danz told Isaacson.

Danz said that Lange wasn't allowed to have nude or intimate pictures, or any pictures of juveniles.

Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell said the revocation was warranted because of Lange's actions.

"What reason does he have to yank it out of the computer and chew it up?" Newell asked. "It would be improper to give him the benefit of the doubt, when he destroyed the very card that would have showed what was on it."

Defense attorney Francis Rivard contends that the images didn't show any "intimate parts" and shouldn't be used as reasons to revoke Lange's release.

Lange testified at the hearing, claiming that there were no images of nudity on the card. He said he had been doing well and was hoping to pursue release of his mental health commitment in the future. He wanted to avoid going back to Mendota. He contended the staff at Campbell House were plotting against him.

Lange has been convicted of three sex offenses.

Contact: 715-723-0303, chris.vetter@ecpc.com

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(c)2017 the Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wis.)

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