Dylan Sullivan – Repeat Sex Offender

Sarah Tofte of the Human Rights Watch says 25% of all sex offenders
re-offend within 15 years


A sexual predator who repeatedly raped and threatened a child over a three-year period, from the time the child was 8 years old, has been put behind bars.

In Washburn County Circuit Court in Shell Lake last Thursday, Judge Michael Gableman, a Burnett County circuit court judge, agreed with Washburn County District Attorney Mike Bitney that Dylan Sullivan of Fond du Lac should receive a severe penalty for his crimes.

Gableman declared that Sullivan, 38, will receive prison time and extensive supervision well into his twilight years.
Gableman sentenced Sullivan to 15 years in prison and 15 years supervision for the Washburn County charge of repeated rape.

He also will serve 10 years in prison plus 10 years supervision for sexual assault and repeated sexual assault charges in Sawyer County. That sentence had originally been imposed and stayed by Sawyer County Judge Norman Yackel in July 2006, and Sullivan was released on probation.

“He’ll be supervised for the next 50 years,” Bitney said.

Bitney also asked that Sullivan have no contact with the family of the child he assaulted, or any other minor female. The abuse took place in three separate counties, Sawyer, Washburn and Ashland, and Sullivan was charged in each.

At the sentencing Bitney began by calling to the witness stand the victim herself. The child, now 15, came forward and was sworn in. Earlier in tears, the young lady regained her composure and presented a strong case against her attacker.

“My mom had been dating Dylan,” she said. “I thought of him as a father. I was raped. I thought it was just a bad dream … I didn’t know what was going on. I was really confused. He repeatedly raped me almost every day. I wanted to tell my mom, but I couldn’t. I didn’t know how she would react.”

The assault continued for years, she said, and being a little girl, she kept believing it was just a bad dream as it would occur at night.

“I’d try not to fall asleep at night,” she said. “But one night I was awake and it happened. I knew it wasn’t a dream. I was kicking and screaming.”

The assaults got more aggressive, she stated, taking place in the non-sleeping hours.

As she grew older she began to fight back.

“I’d kick, punch, elbow, and bite him,” she said. “He took away my innocence. I know people think it is part my fault for letting it go on so long. I was raped repeatedly for three years.”

She expressed a fear that if released, Sullivan would “do it again to little girls.” She stressed that she did not blame her mother at all, who she finally told of the assaults.

“You disclosed this in May of 2004?” asked Bitney.

“Yes,” said the girl.

When Bitney asked the child what sentence she would like to see Judge Gableman hand down to Sullivan she replied, “… as long as possible.”

Defense Attorney Julie Smith had no questions.

Bitney then called to the witness stand the victim’s mother.

The girl’s mother disclosed that fear of Sullivan’s temper was one reason she did not immediately file charges upon learning of the abuse.

“The main reason I waited as long as I did to turn him in, was I was in fear for myself and my family,” she said. “He made threats to my daughter when he molested her. I needed to know I could keep my family safe. I fear him … he is seriously disturbed and dangerous … he was trying to claim my daughter liked what he was doing to her. That disgusts me. All she knew was she was afraid. He needs to be held accountable.”

The victim’s mother stated she hoped for the maximum sentence for Sullivan.

“What he did is unforgivable and disgusting,” she said.

Gableman also received a written statement from the mother, in which she called Sullivan “controlling and abusive,” someone who threatened the child to stay silent. She said he also threatened to not only kill the girl, but also her, her son and himself.

The youngster finally got the courage to go forward, stated her mother, after seeing a film about abuse in school that helped her realize what was happening to her.

“Dylan admitted to molesting her about 100 times, for three years, almost every night. That is more like 1,000 times. What he did to her will forever be in her soul,” said the mother. “We as a society need to step up to protect our children from sexual predators like the defendant. I would like to see my daughter get the justice she deserves. I’m hoping the court will see him for what he is, a very disturbed and dangerous criminal.”

In phone testimony, Dr. Peggy Dennison, a social worker who works with sex offenders, including Sullivan, disclosed that Sullivan also had admitted to assaulting two other girls, one 16 and one 15, as well as a toddler while changing a diaper.

“I consider Sullivan a high risk (to abuse again),” said Dennison. She noted the duration of abuse and the use of force, as well as his deviant sexual arousal, history of alcohol and drug abuse, and the fact that he was abused himself. “Yes, I consider him a high risk.”

Bitney asked Dennison if she thought Sullivan should be in a correctional institution.

“Absolutely,” she replied.

Questioned by Attorney Smith, Dennison said that during her time with Sullivan she felt he might have been abusing medicines as “ … he seemed tired and lethargic.” She said he also attempted to portray himself as the victim and “ … often appeared to want sympathy.”

“Your opinion of Mr. Sullivan has not changed since 2006?” asked Smith.

“No, it has not,” said Dennison, advocating a prison sentence. “I believe Mr. Sullivan is dangerous.”

Parole and probation officer Jennifer Whitehead, who took over Sullivan’s file in February 2007, when asked by Bitney if she considered Sullivan a danger to the community, replied “Yes.”

Private investigator and Probation Agent Sander Engelsgjerd, however, offered a different opinion.

“I found him not to be a high risk to reoffend,” he said.

But Bitney questioned Engelsgjerd, stating, “You told him to be honest and forthcoming on his history. Yet he didn’t tell you of prior assaults?”

“He did not,” said Engelsgjerd, who said he was concerned Sullivan would not get treatment for his problems until late in his sentence if sent to prison.

“He would also not have access to minor children while in a correctional facility either, would he?” asked Bitney.

“He would not,” said Engelsgjerd.

Bitney maintained that in prison Sullivan would get treatment sooner than Engelsgjerd suggested.

Dr. James Peterson also met personally with Sullivan and testified that he found Sullivan “ … feeling picked on and depressed, doing a lot of brooding. He had low self-esteem and low ability to negotiate with others. He is the sort of person easily rattled, with a certain amount of anger, easily withdrawn. He tended to see himself as incompetent.”

Peterson also stated he saw Sullivan as “ … a low risk for reoffending.”

Bitney asked Peterson is he was aware of the additional victims, and the doctor stated he was not.

“You later learned of more victims, one as young as 3?” asked Bitney.

“Correct,” said Peterson.

“Did you know the offenses dated back 13 years?” asked Bitney.

“I do not recall,” said Peterson, who then stated that statistics showed persons who offended one to six years were higher risks than those who have offended longer.

“It seems to me the longer a person offends, the higher the risk,” replied Bitney.

Joanie Boss, Sullivan’s sister and a victim of sexual abuse herself, said she still supported her brother because he had admitted what he’d done.

“I respect him for taking responsibility … he did the best he could after the fact,” she said. “We can’t change what he did. But he admitted it and faced it, contrary to what I’ve heard today.”

“He’s not here just for one crime,” concluded Bitney. “His victim was a girl age 8 through 11 who experienced a nightmare. She was raped almost daily. She didn’t know what he was doing to her was wrong because she was so young. The defendant was originally placed on probation and he failed. He failed in sex offender treatment. He (abused) a child younger than 3.

“To say that he is a low risk is wrong. This defendant in my opinion is a sexual predator … he needs to be locked away for a long time.”

“I agree with Mr. Bitney,” said Smith. “I cannot excuse the behavior of my client. Mr. Sullivan told me from day one he did do these acts with the child.”

Smith said she thought Sullivan’s sister was persuasive, and said he had remorse.

“I am asking the court to place him on 10 years probation,” she said, stating concern for Sullivan’s treatment and adding that Dr. Peterson was a credible witness.

Sullivan himself spoke.

“I’m disgusted with my actions,” he said. “I want to do what I need to do to make sure it never happens again,” adding an apology to his victims.

Gableman returned to court with his decision following a short break.

“I have reviewed and considered this matter,” he said. “I have considered sentencing guidelines, nature and gravity.

“To (the child), I want to tell you how impressed this court is with what you have done, the fact that you came forward. You are a bright, intelligent young person. You have many blessings and many gifts, and you must not allow this to get in the way of your full potential.

“No possible outcome can restore that victim to where she should have been at this time. The only reason this conduct stopped was because the child came forward.”

The judge then sentenced Sullivan, adding that Sullivan will pay restitution, maintain “absolute sobriety,” and be placed on the Wisconsin Sex Offender registry in accordance with Section 301.45, “… for the rest of your life.”

Published in: on February 23, 2008 at 7:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

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