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Former wrestling coach returning to court

Springsteen-Hensel (click for larger version)
April 22, 2014 | 10:34 AM
ELKHORN — A former Elkhorn wrestling coach, who attempted to have a sexual relationship with a boy he coached, is attempting to withdraw his guilty plea on an attempted child enticement charge.

Steven Springsteen-Hensel, 33, was sentenced July 11 to four years in prison and six years of extended supervision. He has been in custody since his sentencing hearing.

In a post-conviction relief motion, Springsteen-Hensel said that prior to pleading guilty, he wasn’t told about an element of the Crime that the state would have had to prove during a jury trial.

“The defendant affirmatively asserts that he did not know, and had not been told, either prior to, or at the time he entered his plea, that the state had to prove that his purpose was sexual arousal or sexual gratification,” according to the motion which was filed by defense attorney Jon Grau.

Springsteen-Hensel was arrested after a Delavan detective used the victim’s cell phone to send text messages to Springsteen-Hensel. During the conversation, Springsteen-Hensel offered to perform oral sex on the boy. The detective, who was pretending to be the boy, met Sprinsteen-Hensel at Delavan School and arrested him. The boy turned 18 the day after Springsteen-Hensel’s arrest.

Throughout the July sentencing hearing, prosecutors painted Springsteen-Hensel as a man who groomed children so he can develop a sexual relationship with them.

The motion also states that Springsteen-Hensel was told he couldn’t use confusion over the victim’s age as a defense. However, it could have been used as a defense in this case, Grau wrote.

In a response to that motion, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube wrote that the defense can only be used in cases involving a “fictitious child.” A fictitious child would be a law enforcement officer posing as a child in an undercover capacity.

“Here there is no question that the child involved actually exists and is well-known to the defendant,” Grube wrote.

Finally, Grau argued that the court “erroneously exercised its discretion when it sentenced the defendant.”

“We do not believe the court adequately explained how, in light of the facts in the case, the sentence imposed advanced the court’s sentencing objectives,” Grau said.

In response to the motion, Grube argued that there wasn’t a reason to overturn the judge’s sentence.

“There is a strong public policy against interfering with the sentencing discretion of the court, and an equally strong presumption that the sentencing court acted reasonably,” Grube wrote.

In the motion Grau argues that Judge John Race, who sentenced Sprinsteen-Hensel, didn’t address whether he thought the defendant would commit another Crime.

“We believe this should have been a key component of the court’s sentencing rationale,” Grau wrote. “A very qualified evaluator had considered that very issue. The court’s consideration of the report was minimal and equivocal.”


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