JEFFERSON — A 54-year-old Jefferson man was sentenced in Jefferson County Circuit Court Tuesday to five years in prison followed by seven years on extended supervision for the second-degree sexual assault of a child.

In August, Daren E. Maron pleaded no contest to the charge that he had sex with his daughter’s 15-year-old friend in April 2018. Judge William Hue found Maron guilty of the charge.

The conditions of Maron’s extended supervision include not having any contact with the victim or her family; not having any presence at the victim’s home, school or workplace; no unsupervised contact with any child under 18 without approval; to undergo assessment, treatment or counseling as required; to maintain employment or enrollment in an educational program; to report to and comply with the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry; to undergo a psychosexual assessment and comply with any recommendations or treatments and to provide a DNA sample.

Maron received 337 days of credit for time already served.

The incident occurred after Maron met the girl while at Skyzone, an indoor trampoline park, with his daughter and her friends. The contact between the two elevated quickly.

Maron was texting the girl “flirty” messages while in the car on the way home, according to Assistant District Attorney Theresa Beck. Those flirty messages progressed even further the very next day in what Beck called a “fast-track grooming.”

The two met up and went from kissing and oral sex to sexual intercourse. He reportedly purchased her makeup and texted her using an application that does not back up messages once they are deleted.

Messages sent to her reportedly were flirtatious in nature, using terms such as “cute” and “hot” to describe the teen. The criminal complaint states that other messages included “Hey, I want to have sex.”

Contact with Maron was halted when the girl’s mother learned about the situation and authorities were notified.

A letter from the girl’s mother was read in court Tuesday. In it, she said because of this incident, she “can’t trust the outside world,” as she described what she and her family had gone through.

“To hear what really did happen and to feel like you failed your child because you weren’t there to protect her while someone older than you had sex with your 15-year-old daughter,” the woman wrote. “These are just the beginning of the feelings that have gone through my mind, not just fear and self-loathing for myself, but the hatred for another person who would do what he did to my young, trusting daughter.”

Beck, in her sentencing recommendation to Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge William Hue, suggested a flipflop of what Maron ultimately received. Beck asked for seven years’ initial confinement with five years of extended supervision to follow.

Beck argued that the then-53-year-old should have known better when he acted incredibly inappropriately with the girl. She said prison was absolutely necessary in this case, as it involved a man 38 years older than his victim.

Beck also said Maron’s prior convictions dating back to 1995 show he has been through the ringer of the criminal justice system without any improvement. Maron’s prior convictions all would be considered property crime, but he has been on probation several times.

“Probation is not an appropriate response; this is a pretty serious case involving the victimization of a very young, very vulnerable girl, and the continued pursuit of her in extremely inappropriate circumstances,” Beck said. “He’s served jail, he’s been on probation, he’s been through our criminal justice system. This case, his 20th, is his most serious conviction. He’s been to prison, he’s been to jail, but at 53, now 54, still not learning his lesson.”

Maron’s defense attorney, William Mayer, argued that Judge Hue needed to weigh Maron’s crime on a scale between more and less aggravated assault.

Mayer said this assault was less aggravated and, because of that, asked for just probation in the case.

Mayer said that while the crime certainly is serious, the fact that the victim was one month shy of her 16th birthday should be considered.

Had the incident occurred one month later, the crime would be a misdemeanor with a nine-month maximum sentence, rather than a felony with a 40-year maximum sentence.

“One month shy of a situation of this offending behavior being a misdemeanor,” Mayer said. “I’m not suggesting this isn’t serious; I’m suggesting in an objective way how the court may want to view this sort of behavior on that continuum.”

Mayer said that while Maron has a criminal history, nothing would have suggested he would have committed a sexual crime in his mid-fifties. He added that the two met in a typical way — meaning that he and the girl were not complete strangers at the time of the incident — and that an assessment of Maron showed a 2016 head injury might have impacted his decisionmaking processes.”

“When this court views sex offenders, again, it views them on a continuum,” Mayer said. “Is this an individual that clearly this court is going to have to worry about going forward, as far as being inappropriate in a sexual way toward minors for the rest of their life, as opposed to someone who has other explanations for their behavior? I think that’s where we fall with Mr. Maron.”

Following Mayer’s argument, Maron made a statement to the court.

“I just want to apologize for the incident, which should’ve never happened,” Maron said. “I’m just sorry for her and her family. I’m the adult in the situation; it should’ve never happened, your honor. I take responsibility for the act.”

Hue indicated that he was struck by the seemingly arbitrary line made between someone who is 15 years and 11 months old and someone who is 16.

“In this particular case, the 30 days makes a big difference,” Hue said. “I must confess that in all my years here, I don’t think I’ve seen a 30-day difference make a 39-year, 3-month difference in sentencing.”

But ultimately, Hue decided that probation was not an appropriate sentence in this case.

“I reject probation; I think it’s inconsistent with the Gallion factors,” Hue said. “I think it unduly depreciates the serious nature of the offense. I don’t think probation would adequately protect the public under these circumstances.”

In deciding that probation wasn’t enough, Hue said prison was necessary.

“When men have sexual relations with minors, they will and must go to prison,” Hue said. “This is conduct that won’t be tolerated. It leaves trauma to those individuals and that simply is not acceptable to the court. I don’t think it’s acceptable to justice; I don’t think it’s acceptable to the community.”

He also said that while there would be prison time, there are factors in the case that need to be balanced and the maximum sentence would be too harsh.

“I think this case, though, is less than a maximum sentence,” Hue said. “This sentence will hopefully provide (the victim) with closure. As I look at this issue, it certainly isn’t a 40-year felony under these circumstances in terms of imprisonment. I work backward from that and try to balance all of the things I’ve talked about.”

In handing down the sentence, Hue also ordered that $500 in restitution be paid to the victim and her mother to recoup the out-of-pocket expenses for counseling.

Maron is set to be processed by the Jefferson County Jail before being transferred into the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

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