Jury convicts Whittenberger
Sexual assault kit not tested for five years
A jury in Waupaca County convicted Leroy R. Whittenberger, 50, Marion, of three felony counts of second-degree sexual assault with use of force.
The victim was a 17-year-old girl at the time the assault in July 2012.
Her rape kit was not tested until 2017 as part of the Wisconsin Sexual Assault Kit Initiative.
This is the first conviction to result from the testing of backlogged sexual assault kits in Wisconsin.
Waupaca County Judge Troy Nielsen presided over the trial, which was held Aug. 27-28.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant Attorneys General Amber Hahn and Noel Lawrence in partnership with the Waupaca County District Attorney’s Office.
“A survivor who waited years for justice has finally received it,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Yesterday’s verdict is a result of her courage and the work of the public servants who have been dedicated to getting justice in this case.”
Investigation opened in 2012
According to the criminal complaint, New London Police Sgt. Todd Sarazin spoke with a woman on July 20, 2012.
She told him Whittenberger had sex with a 17-year-old girl.
The woman said she met Whittenberger at her workplace, when he applied for employment.
They exchanged phone numbers, and the two began calling and texting each other.
One day, the woman told Whittenberger she was concerned about the girl’s interactions with men on her cellphone.
He offered to pretend to be a younger man and text the girl to see if he could learn what she was doing.
He later told the woman she had nothing to worry about.
On July 19, 2012, Whittenberger sent the woman several text messages, saying he wanted to meet her and asking about her work schedule.
They met at her apartment around noon. The girl was there.
Before the woman returned to work, Whittenberger said he was tired and wanted to sleep on the couch.
At 3:20 p.m., the girl texted the woman and said Whittenberger had left.
When the woman called Whittenberger and asked why, he said he was tired and needed some sleep.
At 6 p.m., Whittenberger called her and said, “I’m so sorry. I owe you a huge apology. I need to talk to you now and I can’t.” He then hung up.
When Sarazin spoke with Whittenberger about the girl’s allegations, he denied anything happened, but said he gave the girl a massage.
The girl told Officer Cheri Johnson that she and Whittenberger were sitting on the couch. When she got up to turn on the TV, he grabbed her shorts and pulled them down. He then groped her and forced her to have sex with him multiple times.
DNA tested in 2017
On Dec. 17, 2017, the state Crime Lab tested a DNA sample taken from the girl five years earlier and found it matched Whittenberger’s DNA.
On April 8, 2002, Whittenberger was convicted in Lincoln County of misdemeanor fourth-degree sexual assault and placed on 18 months of probation. A condition of his probation was that he have no contact with females under 18 and provide a DNA sample.
Waupaca County has not scheduled a sentencing hearing yet.
Whittenberger could serve up to 25 years initial confinement and 15 years extended supervision on each count.