Sussex Sun inquiry, documentation prompts district action on sexual assault
High school student, 17, accused of sexual assault no longer attending Hamilton High School
After receiving court documents from a Sussex Sun reporter, Hamilton School District officials began working with the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, to supervise and restrict a high school senior who had been charged with four felonies in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a child.
The investigations were spurred when the alleged victim's mother - who lives in Washington County - contacted the Sun last week, saying "I want all those kids at that elementary school, on his street and at the high school to be safe."
Daniel Koepke, 17, faces four felony charges after allegedly sexually assaulting a 6-year-old relative over the summer. When they were contacted Nov. 5, district officials said they were not aware of the charges against Koepke or his conditional bond.
He was charged in Washington County Circuit Court on July 17. Charges include first-degree child sexual assault, exposing genitals or pubic area, causing a child to view/listen to sexual activity and incest.
The conditions of his release are clear. Koepke is not to have unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 16 (except his younger brother). However, Koepke lives on Majestic Heights Trail, right around the corner from Woodside Elementary School, and continued to attend Hamilton High School up until late last week - after school officials and area police were made aware of Koepke's charges and conditional release.
Hamilton officials more recently said that Koepke is no longer attending school in the district through a "cooperative agreement" reached with Koepke's family last Thursday, Nov. 8. He has not been expelled or suspended, according to the district.
Because the charges were filed under the jurisdiction of Washington County, neither the School District nor the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department knew about the case when it happened almost four months ago. Washington County District Attorney Mark Bensen said that he "had no reason to dispute that they were not made aware of the situation prior to Monday (Nov. 5)."
"It is a legitimate concern," said Lt. Torin Misko, director of police services for the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department, who works at the Sussex substation and was also not familiar with the case before Nov. 5.
It still isn't clear how the lapse occurred.
Bensen said law-enforcement officers are "sometimes aware of the case and sometimes they're not" but he's "not sure" how they are made aware.
"It's their job," Bensen said.
Since seeing the official charges and requesting details about the bond's conditional release details, the school worked with Waukesha County officials to develop a course of action and "immediately put restrictions and individual supervision in place," according to Hamilton School Public Information Coordinator Denise Dorn Lindberg. Lindberg said also pointed that the School District is in constant communication with Waukesha County through their deputy liaison, regardless.
Three notices have been sent out to Hamilton students' parents: one from the School District for elementary schools, one from the School District to families with students at the high school and one from the Waukesha County Sheriff for the elementary schools. The fliers were sent to keep communication open between the district, the students' parents and law enforcement. Lindberg added that all Hamilton schools have secure and monitored entrances/exits. Playground supervisors and staff members have been directed to be "extra vigilant," Lindberg said.
"The bottom line is that we all have the same goal. The schools, the parents, the police - we all want to keep our children safe," she said.
The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department has also arranged for more patrol in those areas. If parents or members of the community have any questions or concerns, they are asked to contact the Sheriff's Department at (262) 548-7125.
"The Waukesha County Sheriff's Department is doing everything possible to keep our community safe," Misko said. More recently, he has also had conversations with Washington County District Attorney's Office regarding case updates and cross-county communication.
Bensen was not available for additional comments before press time.
Koepke is being charged as an adult. If convicted of the four felonies, he could face more than 100 years in prison and fines up to $135,000.
According to the criminal complaint, Koepke was babysitting the victim and her siblings July 12 when he asked the young girl to undress and watch while he pulled down his pants and touched the child inappropriately. He then fondled himself, according to the complaint. Koepke allegedly told the victim not to tell her mother or she would be sent to the "naughty corner."
The complaint said that the child told her mom what happened because she "knew it was the right thing to tell" and "even if someone tells you to keep a secret, (my mommy) told me if they did something bad I need to tell." Her mother immediately told her family members and contacted the police.
The complaint says Koepke's story changed several times when questioned by police, and that he admitted to being untruthful and minimizing his actions. The complaint added that he stated that he knew what he did was wrong but he was "sexually aroused and was unable to control himself."
Koepke was released on a conditional bond, which stated that he is to have no contact with the victim or the victim's family, he's to stay at his main residence, that he is not to travel outside of the state (except for a planned trip with his family), and he is not to have any unsupervised contact with anyone younger than 16 except his younger brother.
Koepke's arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 15 in Washington County Circuit Court.
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