A man convicted of sexually assaulting two women while they were walking on the Kenosha County Bike Trail will spend 50 years in prison for the attacks, the maximum sentence allowed to the court.
Reginaldo Etienne, 32, was sentenced Wednesday for two counts of second-degree sexual assault.
Before he was sentenced, Etienne had attempted to withdraw his earlier guilty plea, a request that was rejected by Judge Bruce Schroeder.
Etienne was convicted of assaulting two women who were walking on the bike trail, the women assaulted in two separate incidents in March and May 2018.
In the first attack, a 67-year-old woman walking in the 9100 block of the trail was forced to the ground and assaulted.
Then in May, an 18-year-old woman walking in the 9400 block of the trail was assaulted. DNA evidence led to Etienne.
The case had been expected to go to trial, with Etienne initially facing nine felony charges that included battery, false imprisonment and robbery.
On the day the trial was scheduled to begin, he entered a plea agreement, pleading guilty to the two sexual assault with use of force counts, the most serious charges he faced.
But at his original sentencing date in March, Etienne sought to withdraw his plea, arguing that he felt pressured by his then-defense attorney to take the plea.
On Wednesday, after listening to testimony from Etienne and his original defense attorney, Schroeder rejected Etienne’s argument.
Neither of the victims attended the sentencing hearing. But in making his sentencing argument to the court, District Attorney Michael Graveley spoke about statements the women had made to investigators.
He said the first victim had trained for marathons, and the trail represented for her the strength of her accomplishments.
“Now that has been poisoned for her,” Graveley said.
The prosecutor said the second woman was a college student when she was attacked.
“She said prior to this she had always looked for the good in people and now she can’t do that anymore,” Graveley said.
‘Terrified the community’
Graveley said the attacks unnerved the community and robbed people of the ability to feel safe while seeking solitude and a respite from the modern world on the path, a popular place to seek out nature for cyclists, walkers and runners.
“He terrified the whole community. Literally the community had to change the way it behaved to protect itself,” Graveley said.
“I asked the judge to make sure that this community heard from this sentence that we will not be a place that we will tell people you might be a victim.”
In a brief statement at the hearing, Etienne apologized to the two women, said defense attorney Scott Anderson.
“He said he was sorry for putting the two women through this,” Anderson said.
Anderson asked the judge to consider sentencing Etienne to 18 years, which would have allowed him to leave prison when he was 50.
The defense attorney said the presentence writer recommended 19 to 30 years of initial confinement.
Schroeder instead decided to imprison Etienne to the maximum, sentencing him to 25 years of initial confinement on each count, to be served consecutively, followed by 30 years — 15 on each count — of extended supervision.