August 06, 2013 | 12:18 PMElkhorn — A 27-year-old man, who sexually assaulted a girl while she was swimming in Geneva Lake, was sent to prison for 14 years.
Matthew L. Dennis, who is a resident of Washington state, also assaulted the girl at a home in the town of Delavan.
Judge David Reddy also ordered that Dennis spend 14 years on extended supervision after he is released from prison. Dennis also must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
A Walworth County jury found Dennis guilty Jan. 31 of four counts of sexual assault of a child under the age of 16. The girl was 13 at the time of the incident.
During the trial, when the victim testified she recanted on the witness stand and said the sexual assaults never occurred.
"The (victim) only spoke once under oath, and that is when she said those attacks didn't happen," defense attorney James Duquette said.
However, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said the girl was intimidated not to testify against Dennis.
"It is no surprise to anybody that she came to court that day and testified that way," he said.
Dennis was in a relationship with the victim's sister. It is unclear how old the victim's sister was when Dennis started dating her, but she was either 14 or 16. By all accounts Dennis was in his early 20s when that relationship began.
"(The relationship with the victim's sister) certainly screams additional criminal conduct," Grube said.
On June 27, 2012, the girl went swimming in Lake Geneva. While she was swimming Dennis came up behind her and touched her. Other people that were swimming didn't see the incident, but reported that the victim was quiet afterwards.
On June 28, 2012, Dennis reportedly approached the girl in a bedroom and touched her again and exposed himself to her.
The girl told a relative about the assaults, and on June 30, 2012, she talked to the police.
Grube said Dennis has a criminal history, which includes domestic abuse and he has a juvenile record.
Although Dennis doesn't have a record for drug possession or distribution, Grube said he has a history of using and dealing narcotics.
"He freely admits through the course of all these incidents that he is selling drugs," Grube said. Grube said Dennis has nine violations during his year in the Walworth County jail. One of those violations includes forming a gang with other inmates.
This was discovered when correctional officers searched the unit and found bylaws for the gang in the jail.
Grube asked Reddy to sentence Dennis to between 12 and 14 years in prison.
Duquette, asked Reddy to sentence his client to two years of prison.
Duquette said more serious offenders have received shorter sentences than the one recommended by the state.
He pointed to the Shane McKinley case — which involved a former coach who had a sexual relationship with a student — that resulted in a 10-year sentence of initial confinement.
He also said Scott Anderson — a 34-year-old man who touched a 2-year-old girl — received 10 years in prison.