Nicholas Ackerman sentenced to prison for sexual assault of Janesville girl

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Frank Schultz
February 3, 2015

JANESVILLE—Nicholas W. Ackerman was never charged in a 2011 sexual assault case, but a Rock County judge said he considered it Tuesday when sentencing the Janesville man in a similar 2014 sexual assault.

Ackerman will go to prison for about six years for sexually assaulting a 13-year-old Janesville girl in January 2014.

Judge Richard Werner sentenced Ackerman to seven years in prison with credit for 379 days served in jail.

Ackerman had been investigated for a similar case in December 2011. A 15-year-old girl told of chatting with him online, leading to a sexual assault.

Despite DNA evidence, the district attorney did not prosecute the 2011 case. District Attorney David O'Leary said earlier the girl told conflicting stories that would be hard to sort out at trial and prosecutors wanted to spare the girl cross-examination by a defense attorney.

Assistant District Attorney Anne Nack said Tuesday prosecutors didn't think they could prove it.

The Gazette detailed the 15-year-old's allegations in an article last June.

Tuesday, Nack asked Werner not to consider the previous case in his sentence.

But Werner said he did consider that case, noting that Rock County Child Protective Services had investigated and substantiated it.

The earlier case was not a main factor in the sentence, but it underscored Ackerman's need for sexual abuse counseling in prison, Werner said.

Werner also sentenced Ackerman to five years of extended supervision after prison. Conditions of that supervision include registration as a sex offender, which will attach to him for life.

Other conditions are that he have no contact with the victim or her family and not possess a cellphone or use social media unless allowed by his parole agent.

In the 2014 case, Ackerman, then 20, had contacted the girl using a text-messaging app called Kik, which allows strangers to interact. They texted each other for some time, sometimes talking about sex, before she agreed to meet him, according to court documents.

They met in a Center Avenue parking lot on Jan. 20, 2014. That was when she told him for the first time that she was 13. She said she only wanted to talk.

But she got in his car, and he drove her to a secluded spot, where they had sex.

“It appears to me you went there with the idea you were going to have sex with this girl regardless of the circumstances,” Werner said.

She was 4 feet, 5 inches tall and 88 pounds, Nack said, while Ackerman was 6 feet, 2 inches tall and 210 pounds.

She was scared and unable to handle a sexual situation with an older person, Nack said.

She asked him to stop in the middle of the act, but he didn't, Nack said.

“He clearly was the one who was more mature. He was older, he was in control of the situation,” Nack said.

The assault left her in so much pain that she had to use a wheelchair when examined at the hospital, Nack said.

“Undoubtedly, she's going to carry this with her the rest of her life,” Werner said.

Defense attorney Rick Jones said Ackerman always accepted responsibility for what he did and asked the court to consider his background.

Ackerman's father, who suffered from severe bipolar disorder and drug abuse, physically and verbally abused him, Jones said.

His father committed suicide Jan. 20, 2013, exactly one year before the sexual assault, Jones noted.

Ackerman has never dealt with his emotions surrounding his father's abuse and his death, Jones said.

Ackerman had been found delinquent six times in juvenile court on charges that included creating a bomb scare and disorderly conduct, but he also managed a 3.7 grade point average in high school.

He had good friends but also bad friends, Jones said.

“He's responsible. He's guilty. We accept that,” Jones said, arguing for three years in prison.

Jones said he feared what would happen to Ackerman in prison, adding that he had been “jumped” at least three times at the Rock County Jail.

Ackerman said he was sorry and knows that if he does not change himself, he could spend his life in prison or die on the street.

“I want to apologize to the victim and her family,” he said. “… I hope they can forgive me for my actions.”

Werner referred to psychological tests that showed Ackerman had scored low for pedophilia, antisocial behavior and for the risk he would commit more crimes.

But Ackerman clearly needs psychological treatment, and that treatment must be in prison because of the gravity of the crimes, Werner said

Nack said the district attorney's office tried to contact the victim's family for comment on the sentencing, but the family did not respond.

Ackerman also was sentenced on two 2011 burglaries.

The sentence for each burglary was five years in prison and five years of extended supervision, to run concurrently with the sex-assault sentence.

Werner also sentenced him to nine months in jail on four 2012 retail-theft charges, also to run concurrently.

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