Former corrections officer is sentenced
JUNEAU -- A former Fox Lake Correctional officer will spend the next 35 years in prison followed by 25 years of extended supervision after he was sentenced in Dodge County Circuit Court Friday afternoon.
Alex Wouts, 35 of Poy Sippi, was found guilty on five counts of second degree sexual assault by a Dodge County jury after a three day trial in May.
Before he rendered his sentence Friday Dodge County Circuit Court Judge Joseph Sciascia said he accepted the jury’s verdict in Wouts’ case.
Sciascia said Wouts was in a position of authority and imposed his will on others to exploit them.
The judge said Wouts abused his power as a correctional officer and knew he was HIV positive at the time he manipulated and sexually abused three separate male inmates at the correctional facility.
“This is inexcusable,” Sciascia said. “There has to be some serious prison time ordered here.”
Fox Lake Correctional Institution Warden Randall Hepp said Wouts’ actions harmed the public’s view of correctional officers across the state, especially those who work at Fox Lake.
“These acts fuel disdain within the public for correctional employees,” the warden said.
Hepp said correctional officers are put in place to watch over and take care of inmates, not to break their trust as Wouts did.
“They trust us to take care of them, protect them and do right by them,” Hepp said. “Mr. Wouts violated that trust that was built over several decades by previous correctional officers who served Fox Lake Correctional Institution.”
One of the former inmates, who was victimized by Wouts, spoke in court Friday.
“It doesn’t matter if you act remorseful in court. You don’t get to hide. Rape is a crime. You can’t erase the past. This is on you,” the victim said. “You’re a rapist -- not me. You’re a criminal -- not me. You wear the scarlet letter -- not me.”
Another victim, who’s letter was read in court, spoke against Wouts.
“You preyed on me,” said a second victim. “You took my kindness for weakness. I was a confident male, but you took that away from me. While you enjoyed your freedom you made my life hell on earth. You are a selfish psychopath.”
Wouts’ mother, Robin Miller, who also spoke at the sentencing, disagreed.
“Alex has never been in trouble with the law,” she said. “I believe he was set up. This is not in his nature. He is not a criminal. Don’t put an innocent man in prison.”
Wouts’ attorney, Michael Steinle, asked the judge for leniency in sentencing his client.
“He is 35 years old without any type of record,” Steinle said. “He’s not a risk to the community. He comes from a stable upbringing and has a tremendous amount of support.”
Wouts said there is no evidence of what the victims have said is true.
“There’s ample opportunity for all of them to get their stories straight,” Wouts said. “You’re telling me there is no dates or times or nothing on video surveillance. These inmates had nothing to lose.”
Wouts said this was a “foolproof scam” thought up by the inmates.
“I am not sure who I am more upset with the inmates or the administration,” Wouts said.
Dodge County Assistant District Attorney James Sempf said Wouts simply won’t own up to what he did.
“This is not an isolated incident,” Sempf said. “It’s clear the victims didn’t consent to this at any point. Mr. Wouts even told one of the victims it’s his word against those of the inmates. When he was supposed to be watching over the inmates he was using his power to abuse the inmates.”
Sempf also said Wouts has known about his HIV status since July 2010.
“The corrosive nature of the disparity in the power dynamic is a factor in what makes this offense so serious,” said Sempf said during his sentencing argument where he asked the court to incarcerate Wouts for 120 years. “The defendant can fairly be classified as a serial rapist.”
Dodge County District Attorney Klomberg said, “In my 16 years as a prosecutor, I have rarely seen a colleague work as hard pursuing justice as Assistant District Attorney James Sempf did in this case. This was an exceptionally difficult case where the defendant banked on the jury dismissing the victims because they were inmates. The prisoners housed in our institutions are in our care and are entitled to our protection. The corrections officers that make up much of the fabric and identity of Dodge County serve with distinction under impossibly difficult conditions. The defendant was not a part of that honorable profession. Alex Wouts was nothing but a serial rapist who posed as a corrections officer to find victims.”
According to the criminal complaint, officers were notified in December of 2015 that an investigation needed to be done at Fox Lake Correctional Institution in reference to a sexual assault allegation that came to the Dodge County District Attorney’s Office.
Officers responded to the Fox Lake prison where they met with a male victim. The victim alleged that he had been sexually assaulted by Wouts for some time. He told officers that on numerous occasions Wouts would perform oral sex on him.
The victim said the encounters were often pre-arranged and would normally happen on third shift. The victim said Wouts had also sexually assaulted other inmates.
Officers interviewed Wouts Dec. 4, 2015. Wouts denied any sexual assaults, laughing and allegedly saying that he was “not gay and would never ruin his reputation or his family to do something like that within the prison system.”
A pair of underwear was recovered from one of the inmates which was tested for DNA. The DNA results showed a combination of the inmate’s and Wouts’ DNA.