Judge Throws Out Case After Jury Finds Man Guilty
Sheboygan County District Attorney Joe DeCecco says he's stunned.
His office is scrambling today to appeal a judge's ruling that threw out a case against a man who had just been convicted of child enticement. Following a one day trial, jurors spent all of 30 minutes before it reached a guilty verdict against Mitchell Pask.
Following the conviction, Judge Timothy Van Akkeren ruled on a motion the defense made earlier to dismiss the case. The defense argued that prosecutors hadn't met the burden of proof saying the incident didn't take place in a secluded area, which is required for the charge.
According to the criminal complaint in the case, Pask was overheard in a park saying, "Look at those sexy little salty girls." He was referring to a group of several young girls. Prosecutors say he approached a nine-year-old girl who was in the Workers' Water Street Park in June and repeatedly asked her to go with him and he would give her candy.
Pask tried to get the girl to come to a shelter at the park. The defense argued that the shelter didn't qualify as a secluded area, and the judge apparently agreed.
Pask has a long criminal history, including a previous conviction for sexually assaulting a young girl.
The Sheboygan County District Attorney plans to appeal the case. DeCecco says because the jury has already reached a verdict, if the judge's ruling is overturned, prosecutors would not have to retry the case.
Pask is still in custody based on a different case.