The day he was scheduled to go to trial for two sexual assaults on the Kenosha County Bike Trail, Reginaldo Etienne decided instead to enter a guilty plea.
Etienne was accused of assaulting two women who were walking on the bike trail in two separate incidents in March and May 2018.
In the first incident, a 67-year-old woman walking in the 9100 block of the trail was forced to the ground and assaulted.
In the second incident, an 18-year-old woman was walking in the 9400 block of the trail when a man attacked her. DNA evidence led to Etienne.
The case was scheduled to go to trial Monday.
Instead, Etienne opted to enter a plea agreement with the state. He pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault with use of force, each count carrying a possible sentence of 40 years in prison. In exchange, the state dropped eight additional counts, along with the repeater status on the charges.
District Attorney Michael Graveley said the goal of the prosecution was that a conviction would lead to a sentence that would prevent Etienne from victimizing other women in the future. He said Etienne now faces a potential 80-year prison sentence.
“I think of the Etienne case as one of those fundamental public safety cases. This case was about women in our community being able to feel secure in one of the most public recreation areas in Kenosha County,” Graveley said.
Graveley praised the two women who were assaulted for their bravery in coming forward and working with police and prosecutors.
“The courage of these victims to come forward immediately and to be an active part of the prosecution allowed for there to be important DNA evidence that led to this suspect being caught,” he said.
He said that it appeared that Etienne waited on the bike trail until he saw women — both strangers to him — who were alone and isolated.
“There is no reason to believe had he not been caught by the identifications and the DNA in this case that he would not have assaulted other people in the future,” Graveley said.
Etienne, 32, of Kenosha, was on probation for a 2008 armed robbery at the time of his arrest, having been released from prison to extended supervision four months before the first assault.
Defense attorney Terry Rose said the plea ensures the victims would not have to testify in court. Rose said Etienne “feels remorse and he did not want to put them through that.”
Etienne is scheduled to be sentenced March 25.