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November 15, 2019

9/28/2019 7:30:00 AM
Donato charged with fourth degree sexual assault after incident in store
By River News Staff

A 67-year-old Rhinelander man who was convicted of molesting two girls in the Rhinelander Walmart store on Aug. 23, 2016 is facing new charges involving inappropriate contact with a young female clerk in a local store.

According to a criminal complaint filed Sept. 23, John J. Donato has been charged with two counts of fourth degree sexual assault stemming from an incident in the Rhinelander Kohl's store Sept. 10.

According to the complaint, an 18-year-old store clerk reported she was standing near the jewelry section that morning when an older man approached her. The male asked about the shoe department and whether the store sold moccasins, the clerk reported.

After she advised that the store sold the footwear he was looking for, the clerk reported Donato put his hands on her buttocks and rubbed them while saying "thank you."

Security footage from the store shows the incident, according to the complaint.

When confronted by police, Donato denied touching anyone. Eventually he became "defensive" and refused to answer further questions, the complaint states.

Donato made his initial appearance in Oneida County Circuit Court Sept. 23 at which time bail was set at $3,500 cash.

Assistant district attorney Jillian Pfeiffer noted in her bail argument that Donato is on probation related to the 2016 incident in Walmart.

In the 2016 case, Donato groped a 13-year-old girl in the school supplies section of the store. An 8-year-old girl also reported Donato touched her inappropriately while she was in the same store that day.

In May 2017, Donato was sentenced to one year in jail, 10 years probation and registration as a sex offender in connection with that case.

As a result of the new charges, the Department of Corrections has placed a probation hold on him.

According to online court records, the Oneida County district attorney's office has filed a motion to reinstitute proceedings in the 2016 case.

An adjourned initial appearance on the new charges is set for Oct. 14.

The new charges carry a maximum penalty of 18 months in prison.

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