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Child sex crimes charged

A 53-year-old man accused of multiple child-sex crimes remains in custody after Judge Vicki Clussman set a $25,000 cash bond as a condition of his release.

Bruce D. Bestul, of Appleton, is charged with child enticement, child sexual exploitation, possession of child pornography, causing a child to expose intimate parts, exposing a child to harmful material, and felony intimidation of a witness.

Detective Sgt. Julie Thobaben, with the Waupaca County Sheriff’s Office, began investigating a complaint against Bestul on Aug. 20.

She spoke with the mother of a 16-year-old girl, who said Bestul sent sexually explicit messages to her daughter more than a year earlier.

The mother said Bestul’s girlfriend’s adult daughter had sent her screenshots of Facebook messages between Bestul and the then 15-year-old girl.

Thobaben, who saw the messages, reported they were sexual in nature or had sexual connotations.

According to the criminal complaint, “Bestul graphically describes sexual acts to the child … Bestul tells the child to send a picture of herself while the child is engaged in a sexual act.”

He is also accused of instructing the child to delete the messages and not to tell anyone because “I dislike prison.”

Thobaben interviewed the girl, who reportedly said their “sexual talk” had escalated into her sending Bestul two photos of herself.

The girl also said Bestul never touched her, although he asked her to meet him to have sex. She was living in the town of Dayton at the time of the alleged incident, and Bestul was living in the Fox Valley area.

The girl’s mother messaged Bestul and his girlfriend after seeing the Facebook messages.

The girlfriend initially responded that she did not know anything about the messages, the complaint says, but she later begged the mother not to turn Bestul in because she did not want to lose him.

After learning his girlfriend’s daughter had forwarded his Facebook messages, Bestul allegedly sent a message to her that said, “Your time is coming … I am gonna do a payback.”

Bestul faces up to 40 years in prison, with a minimum term of five years, if convicted of child sexual exploitation.

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