By Jason Arndt

The appeal and decision took a year, but a Wisconsin appeals court reversed a Department of Health Services placement of a sexually violent offender into a Town of Wheatland residence, where a family with a child lives two doors down.

Michael McGee, 54, convicted in 1987 of second-degree sexual assault and burglary in Racine County, was set to move into the residence after Racine County Circuit Court Judge Allan Torhorst approved the placement at 32200 Geneva Road.

Michael McGee

The appeals court, however, found both agencies did not comply with statutory requirements under Chapter 980 guidelines in its 15-page decision.

“We conclude that DHS and the circuit court failed to abide by the statutory requirements, we reverse and remand to vacate the approval of McGee’s supervised release plan,” the decision states.

The decision hinged on timely notification of Kenosha County authorities, who were not invited to help develop McGee’s supervised release plan, and the reason for his parole revocation into account.

According to Wheatland Town Attorney Todd Terry, who acknowledged DHS faces challenging tasks, he believes the state agency made a hasty decision.

“DHS really seemed to put the cart before the horse and, I believe, worked toward the only resolution they wanted and that was placing Mr. McGee,” said Terry.

Additionally, according to state statutes, if an offender comes from a different county, both DHS and court have a legal obligation to inform local authorities.

However, in the decision, Racine County failed to involve nor seek guidance from Kenosha County authorities in developing McGee’s supervised release plan.

“Instead, the statute contemplates that DHS will work with local law enforcement and the county entities and seek advice about a proposed placement of a particular sexually violent person in order to draft the supervised release plan,” the appeals decision wrote.

Furthermore, the court of appeals found Racine County Circuit County in error when they determined McGee’s victims were adult females and prepubescent males, but did not take into account an alleged assault of a male child known to him.

McGee, consequently, had his parole revoked and was later civil committed under Chapter 980.

“Simply because McGee was not “convicted” of sexually assaulting a child, but rather his parole was revoked, does not mean that the proposed placement next to a child is not relevant to the court’s ultimate determination under WIS. STAT. § 980.08(4)(g),” the appeals decision states.

McGee was set for placement near a family with toddler.

The appellate court’s perspective on this issue pleased Terry.

“While the application of the law can and often times should be very strict and technical, it is ignoring the spirit and intent of the supervised release laws.”

Meanwhile, Terry credited Kenosha County Corporate Counsel Jennifer Kopp, who spent about a year working on the case for the Town of Wheatland.

McGee has since moved to Monroe County, near Tomah, where he has claimed residence in late April.

The Westosha Report will have more on this story in an upcoming print edition


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