Man Sentenced to 60 Years in Prison for Attacks on Amish
Mar. 26, 1996
SPARTA, Wis. (AP) _ A carpenter who sought revenge after an Amish buggy forced his car into a ditch was sentenced to 60 years in prison Monday for raping a 15-year-old Amish girl and firing a rifle at a horse and buggy.
The Nov. 1 attacks were prosecuted as a hate crime because Michael Vieth admitted he targeted members of the religious sect. But the judge rejected the prosecutor's appeal for extra punishment, saying he didn't believe Vieth was motivated by religious or cultural prejudice.
The judge said Vieth probably would have committed a similar crime against Boy Scouts or any other group he blamed for forcing him off the road.
``When he drinks, he's a loose cannon,'' the judge said. ``When he drinks, he does bad things.''
Vieth apologized and said he would get alcohol counseling in prison.
``Nobody deserves to go through what I put these people through,'' Vieth said.
Vieth, 24, abducted the girl in rural Wilton as she walked home from substitute teaching and sexually assaulted her in his car. He cut off her underclothes after she told Vieth it would be a sin for her to remove them, according to the criminal complaint.
Earlier that day, Vieth had shot at an Amish horse and buggy with a .22-caliber rifle. The buggy was carrying a man and three children, but only the horse was injured.
Vieth pleaded no contest Feb. 19 to kidnapping, sexual assault and four counts of recklessly endangering the safety of others. He admitted drinking at least eight bottles of beer that day.
Circuit Judge Steven Abbott sentenced Vieth to 20 years in prison for kidnapping, 20 years for rape and five years for each reckless endangerment conviction. They will be served consecutively, and Vieth will be eligible for parole in about 15 years.
He will also be registered under Wisconsin's sexual offender program and a sample of his DNA will be preserved by the state.
District Attorney John Matousek said Vieth's punishment was inadequate.
``I argued for 155 years, based on the fact he had a previous incident in 1987 in which he shot a dozen bullets in two different vehicles,'' he said. ``I wasn't going to have the blood of any future victims on my hands.''
Those attacks were not on Amish.
Vieth's attorney had argued for a 20-year prison term.
Vieth told investigators he shot five times at the horse and buggy. He then drove away and abducted the Amish girl as ``a way to get one up on the Amish,'' the criminal complaint said.
The girl said Vieth kept her in the car for about three hours before dropping her off near her home.
The rape victim was not in court for the sentencing, but about 20 Amish attended. They declined to comment, except to say they had forgiven him.