Elkhorn man sentenced to 85 years in prison for child sexual assault

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Jonah Beleckis | August 23, 2017

ELKHORN—Across his life, Jeffery S. Pestor, a convicted child sex offender and admitted pedophile, self-reported having 21 victims, nine of them family members.

Judge Kristine Drettwan said Pestor, 55, Elkhorn, is the reason maximum sentences exist. On Tuesday, she ordered him to serve 85 years in prison followed by 45 years of extended supervision.

“You are a certain, dangerous and imminent threat,” Drettwan said. “The maximum is the minimum required.”

Pestor was sentenced in Walworth County Court on Tuesday after pleading guilty to two persistent repeater counts of first-degree child sexual assault for having inappropriate sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl he knows in late July 2016, according to court documents. He also pleaded guilty to possessing child porn after police found a computer Pestor told a relative to destroy.

Pestor in 1989 was sentenced to 15 years in prison for abducting a young girl in 1984, taking her to a cemetery, forcing her into sex acts and throwing her out of the car, causing the girl to hit her head on a tombstone.

Assistant District Attorney Diane Donohoo, who recounted the details from the 1984 incident, asked Drettwan to make sure Pestor “never walked the Earth a free man again.”

An Elkhorn police officer who said he remembers the incident 30 years ago was in court Tuesday.

The most recent victim's mother and grandmother spoke at the sentencing and said Pestor has victimized three generations of their family over 40 years.

The victim's grandmother called for the death penalty.

“Jeffery has inflicted pain, suffering and bloodshed,” the victim's grandmother said. “He enjoyed seeing the fear within us because he knew he still had control. And he thrived off of it.”

Wisconsin in 1853 was the first state to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Donohoo asked for a sentence that would ensure Pestor dies in prison.
“That is our goal here,” she said.

Pestor's history led Drettwan to ask repeatedly: Is rehabilitation for Pestor possible?
Pestor has been interested in children since about when he was in high school and is beyond any rehabilitation, Donohoo said.

“No sentence will change him,” she said.

Pestor's lawyer, Francis Raff, said Pestor did best in society and did not reoffend when he was monitored between 2010 and 2015.

Raff acknowledged prison was appropriate, but he called for a much lighter prison sentence, 13 years, and a lot of extended supervision.

Pester also spent time at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center, which houses Wisconsin's Sexually Violent Persons Program, according to the state Department of Health Services website.

Pestor is smart and a hard worker who can still contribute to society, Raff said.

Pestor pleaded guilty in the 1984 case and the current one. Raff argued he took responsibility for his actions and apologized.

“I'm sorry I caused everyone so much discomfort, pain and despair,” Pestor said at his sentencing. “I have shattered their faith and trust.”

“Again, I am deeply sorry,” he said.

Donohoo questioned Pestor's sincerity. She cited an excerpt from a phone call Pestor made while in jail.

“All this for just that stupid rotten little girl,” Pestor said in the phone call, according to a transcript.

Drettwan said there was no question whether Pestor would reoffend if he was out in the community.

The girl from the 1984 abduction and assault is now grown and said she was willing to testify at Pestor's trial if the recent case had not ended in a plea, Donohoo said.

The young girl from the most recent incident will have to go to counseling, the girl's mother said.

“No 5-year-old should have to do that,” she said. “You (Pestor) victimized my daughter, and she will never be OK. She will never be the same.”

The victim's grandmother said if the cries against Pestor were heard back in the 1970s, maybe future incidents could have been prevented.

Drettwan agreed and apologized.

“You can never get out of prison,” Drettwan said. “I will not let you hurt someone else.”

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