Courts

A registered sex offender will spend a year in jail for violating conditions of his probation by sexually assaulting a 4-year-old girl last summer in Eau Claire.

Ben C. Lashley, 34, 2335 Welsh Court, was convicted of a felony count of child enticement as a party to a crime in September 2016 in Eau Claire County.

In that case, where four felony counts of possession of child pornography were dismissed, Judge Michael Schumacher sentenced Lashley to five years of probation and two months in jail in December 2016.

The jail term was a joint recommendation by Eau Claire Assistant District Attorney Kelly Mandelstein and defense attorney Matthew Krische.

The state Department of Corrections recommended 15 years in prison followed by 10 years of extended supervision.

The jail recommendation was due, in part, to Lashley’s no contest plea last month to a felony count of first-degree sexual assault of a child, Mandelstein said.

“That was important to us,” she said. “We felt it was important for the defendant to acknowledge responsibility for that incident.”

Krische said Lashley’s 2016 criminal conviction was his first and that the DOC’s prison recommendation was heavy handed.

Lashley needs treatment that can best be received in the community and not in prison, Krische said.

“I do think he has absolute remorse for these charges and the new case,” Krische said.

Lashley told Schumacher he takes responsibility for his actions.

“I am sorry for hurting my family and what they are going through because of my behaviors,” he said. “I am doing a lot to change my behaviors.”

Lashley will be sentenced April 4 on the sexual assault charge.

A joint sentencing recommendation by Mandelstein and Krische in that case calls for 15 years of probation and one year in jail.

Judge John Manydeeds, who is not bound by the recommendation, could sentence Lashley to up to 40 years in prison.

Lashley’s probation was revoked because of the new sexual assault charge.

According to the criminal complaint in the previous case, Lashley possessed pornographic images of young children on computers between Nov. 21, 2013, and May 18, 2014. Police found a number of child porn images on computers used by Lashley that later were pawned or returned to a rental business.

According to the criminal complaint in the sexual assault case:

Lashley was accused of having sexual contact with a 4-year-old girl at two different Eau Claire residences in July and August.

Lashley is a registered sex offender, and conditions of his probation include not being alone with children unless in the presence of a chaperone.

Lashley’s wife was previously an approved chaperone, but this arrangement was revoked because she knew Lashley was breaking some of his probation rules, and she didn’t report the violations to his probation agent.

After initially denying touching the girl, Lashley admitted during a Sept. 6 interview with police that he had sexual contact with the girl on two occasions when he was alone with her.

“It’s just part of the demon,” he said of the sexual contact.

Contact: 715-833-9207, dan.holtz@ecpc.com