A Vilas County man charged more than two years ago for sexually assaulting a woman twice on the same night in October 2017 will spend nearly two years in the Oneida County Jail after Judge Patrick O'Melia accepted a plea agreement Wednesday.
Richard Loppnow, 40, Eagle River, was originally charged with two counts of first degree sexual assault in Oneida County in February 2018. The criminal complaint alleged that Loppnow held a gun to the woman's head during the assaults, which took place on the same night at two different locations on his property that straddles the Vilas and Oneida county line.
Assistant district attorney Jillian Pfeifer and Loppnow's attorney David Casey came to a plea agreement that would have Loppnow plead guilty to two counts of third degree sexual assault with no mention of the firearm. Charges of misdemeanor and felony bail jumping were dismissed as part of the agreement.
The agreement also included a joint recommendation for sentencing that would have Loppnow serve nine months in jail on the first charge, while on the second count a five years in prison followed by five years of extended supervision sentence was imposed and stayed. In place of prison, Loppnow would serve a year in jail, consecutive to the other sentence for a total of 21 months. He would also be placed on probation for five years and register as a sex offender for life. He was given 141 days of credit for time he spent in jail before paying the $25,000 cash bond in July 2018.
At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Pfeifer recapped the case, which had Loppnow telling the victim that a "gang" that was watching their activities would rape her if she did not have sex with him in both instances. The victim's boyfriend was threatened with "snipers" the "gang" had watching him if he got out of the vehicle the three came in.
"Regarding the facts of this case, they are odd facts, to say the least," Pfeifer said.
She said that the story of the three people differed, but Loppnow's semen was found on the victim's sweatpants she had on that night, and that at one point during the night Loppnow made a phone call to his wife, which was born out by phone records.
"But it was an odd set of facts; it is totally unclear as to what really did occur that night," Pfeifer said.
She told the judge she thought this is an appropriate resolution because Loppnow wanted to serve his incarceration in the county jail and not in prison. The agreement and sentencing recommendation was explained to the victim, along with the "hazards and pitfalls" of taking the case to trial.
"The structure of this sentence, including the length of jail time, does not unduly depreciate the crime; it still has the defendant take responsibility for his actions," Pfeifer said. "All things considered, I think this is a fair outcome and I ask that the court follow it."
Casey told O'Melia that he agreed that the resolution was just.
"He will have two felony convictions, which will last a lifetime, and that he will have to comply with the sex offender program, for life," Casey said.
He added that Loppnow has the five-year prison sentence hanging over his head if his probation is revoked.
Casey said that his client has a relatively sparse criminal record, with the convictions being from 10 years ago or more. He said that Loppnow "has struggled with drug abuse most of his life" and that the treatment he would have access to locally would be better than he would receive in a state prison.
"Mr. Loppnow will be the first one to tell you that he has made some mistakes in his life," Casey said. "He takes full responsibility for his actions and is ready to face the consequences."
Speaking in his own behalf, Loppnow apologized to everyone involved in the case, especially the victim.
"I know that she has suffered physically and emotionally from my actions," Loppnow said. "It is my sincere hope that by acknowledging her pain - and taking responsibility for that - that it will bring her some comfort and closure."
He told O'Melia that since posting his bond "I have remained totally drug-free and given up criminal activity of all kinds." He said he was "ashamed of my actions that day" and that he will spend the rest of his life trying to be a better person.
O'Melia agreed with Pfeifer that this was one of the oddest criminal complaints he had ever read.
"It really was out of the ordinary," O'Melia said.
He said that he is glad that the case could be resolved with the plea agreement rather than a two-week jury trial and making the victim testify to what happened that night. He also said that the jury could rule either way in the case.
O'Melia said he was surprised by Loppnow's desire to serve his incarceration in jail rather than in prison because most people would rather serve their punishment in prison rather than jail.
"There is nothing to do in the county jail," O'Melia said. "There's no gym or things like that. Now there's not even communication (with visitors) in person, it's all done by (closed circuit video) kiosk and things of that nature."
O'Melia then said he would go along with the sentencing recommendation, ordering restitution in the amount of $1,150.52 plus $1,000 fine plus court costs be taken out of the cash bond posted.
The victim was not in the courtroom, nor provided a victim's impact statement to be entered into the record. Despite that, O'Melia hoped the resolution brings her some closure.
"I hope the victim, even though not present, has some sense of justice here," O'Melia said. "Mr. Loppnow, good luck to you. I hope I don't see you again."
Due to health concerns that need to be addressed immediately, O'Melia gave Loppnow 14 days to report to jail to begin serving his sentence.
Jamie Taylor may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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