Saturday, January 12, 2008

Judge reverses decision on Repeat Sex Offender

A Sheboygan County judge who overturned the conviction of a registered sex offender reversed his decision Friday.

Last September, a jury convicted Mitchell Pask of attempting to lure a little girl into a park shelter for sex.

Right after the verdict, Judge Timothy Van Akkeren overturned it, saying the prosecution did not prove the shelter was a secluded location, which he believed was a key part of the child enticement law.

But all along the prosecution argued Pask could have taken the girl virtually anywhere in the park, including down near the river. Ultimately Judge Akkeren agreed there are places in the park to hide.

"I will act with caution, not due to public clamor or fear of criticism but recognizing the great burden that must be met to overcome a jury verdict, and grant the State's motion," Judge Van Akkeren ruled.

Pask is guilty again -- four months after his jury conviction.

District Attorney Joe DeCecco is glad the judge ultimately delivered the same decision, but Pask's lawyer isn't pleased.

"I'm disappointed, a little surprised. I'm quite frankly not exactly sure why he ruled the way he did," attorney George Limbeck said.

"It was weeks and weeks of trying to get this straightened out, but it did get straightened out and I believe he looked at the evidence and levels of proof and courageously reversed his earlier decision," DeCecco said.

The girl's mother applauds Van Akkeren's decision to keep Pask locked up.

"I'm glad he's going to be off the street and not able to hurt any girl or boy, or any kid," Denise Peaine said.

The judge revoked Pask's bond, so Pask will remain in jail without bail until mid-March when he's sentenced.

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