Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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Woman, boyfriend get jail and probation for child abuse

by Chris Schultz

November 01, 2012

ELKHORN — Despite a tearful plea and a promise to be a better mother, Judge John Race sentenced Karen Lake, 37, of Lake Geneva, to 60 days in jail with Huber privileges.

"Your honor, I come before the court asking for mercy," a tearful Lake said during her sentencing hearing last week.

Lake said that she apologized for hurting her son, and added that she will devote herself to mending relations with her son.

Lake and her boyfriend, Christopher Walker, 25 of Lake Geneva, were sentenced Oct. 24 after they were found guilty in jury trials this summer of physically abusing Lake's 10-year-old son.

Race noted that the juries found the boy's testimony of physical abuse more believable than the adults' denials.

"This is not an issue of reasonable discipline," Race said during Walker's sentencing.

"This is an act of violence against a child."

Race said Lake needed a "strong wake-up call."

"She did choose her boyfriend over her child," Race said. "Her loyalties should be with her children, not Mr. Walker."

After serving her jail sentence, Lake will be on three years of probation.

Lake will serve her 60-day sentence after Walker completes a 90-day Huber sentence.

He, too, will spend three years on probation after serving his jail time.

Lake was found guilty of physical abuse of a child, recklessly causing bodily harm. Walker was found guilty of physical abuse of a child, intentionally causing bodily harm. Walker's charge is more serious, but Race made it clear he found both crimes against the youngster "reprehensible" and "vicious."

Race imposed Walker's sentence just prior to Lake's sentencing.

Walker made no statement to the court.

Race imposed the sentences consecutively because Walker and Lake have a 2-year-old son. Race said he wanted the child to have one parent available as caregiver while the other served time in the county jail.

The incident started on Nov. 1, 2011, when Walker picked up Lake's 10-year-old son from school.

During the car ride, Walker became angry with the boy and struck him several times, hitting him in the face and causing a black eye.

Later that same day, Lake pulled her son's hair and told him to lie to police about her boyfriend hitting him.

A few days after the incident, the boy told his father, who is divorced from Lake, about being hit and having his hair pulled, because his head was still hurting.

The father reported the incident to authorities.

During a March 5 forensic interview, the boy told authorities that his mother told him he needed to lie about being hit by Walker.

He said his mother pulled his hair causing him to fall off a couch.

A subsequent examination showed that the boy's eye was black and blue and swollen, and that the youngster had a quarter-sized bald spot in the middle of his head.

The boy's father, who is not being identified to protect the youngster's identity, read a statement to the court on behalf of his son.

The father said the boy still suffers from headaches and blurry vision and was diagnosed as having post-concussion syndrome. He also awakens at night in fear from flashbacks and nightmares.

"My son still suffers from anxiety attacks," the father said. "He's no longer able to trust people as he once did," the father added. "He is living a life no 11-year-old boy should have to endure.

"He's an 11-year-old that's scared to death of his mother and boyfriend."

He said the child is still receiving counseling.

The father testified that the boy's emotional distress caused by the abuse is also having deep financial impacts on the family.

However, there was no claim by the victim's father for restitution.

The father accused Walker and Lake of showing no remorse for their actions. "They have showed nothing but denial and disdain," he said.

He asked that both receive "lengthy" prison sentences.

The father read similar statements at each of the two sentencing hearings.

Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo, who represented the county in both sentencing hearings, said she agreed that a "substantial penalty" would be required, but said she didn't believe a lengthy prison sentence would be necessary.

The Department of Correction's presentence investigation reports on Walker and Lake also did not recommend prison time.

Contact between Lake and her 10-year-old son will be controlled by a family court order, a Child in Need of Protective Services order, or, during probation, by Lake's probation agent, Race said. Walker has no rights to see the boy, Race said.

In addition to her 2-year-old son by Walker, Lake also has two other children by the boy's father.

Lake worked as a mortgage broker but is currently unemployed. She has since filed for bankruptcy. She has a drunken driving conviction in Illinois and a conviction of drunken driving, second offense, in Milwaukee County.

Walker has a 6-year-old daughter by another woman in Florida.

He's been in court for failing to keep up child support payments to his daughter.

He also has a 2006 felony conviction of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He works as a contractor installing security systems.

Walker's attorney Public Defender Travis Schwantes, Elkhorn, indicated that Walker is appealing his conviction.