By Jim Hagerty
JANESVILLE — An area teen will spend more than a decade in prison for the rape of an 86-year-old woman.
Prosecutors minced no words when describing Christopher E. Brooks Jr., 16, of Beloit, calling him a monster, and the July 23, 2006 incident an act of savagery before Judge Michael Haakenson sentenced him to 15 years behind bars Thursday.
Brooks was initially charged with burglary while committing battery, aggravated battery of an elderly person and second-degree sexual assault. He pleaded guilty to the third charge as part of a plea bargain. The other charges were dropped.
Rock County Assistant District Attorney Rich Sullivan was somber, yet stern as he addressed the court, asking Haakenson to be tough and put Brooks away for 25 years, the maximum under the law. Not only did the teen force himself sexually upon the victim, the prosecutor noted, he beat her with a cane and bit her.
The woman pretended to be unconscious during the assault.
“If this doesn’t call for a maximum sentence, we might as well not have maximum sentences,” Sullivan said in court.
Haakenson was hard-lined but expressed empathy for the young offender. He isn’t the monster described by the state, the judge said. Brooks has potential, but also a problem with rage he must work to fix during his time in the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
“When you get out, you need to apply those tools so we don’t see you again,” Haakenson said. “At least we don’t want to see you in the criminal system.”
Unlike random street crimes, Brooks knew his victim. In fact, he was an often-important part of the senior citizen’s life. He was one of several neighbors who looked after her and often helped her carry groceries into her house, a chore for which she paid him. On that fateful day last year, Brooks decided to take more than the wages he earned helping an elderly hard-of-hearing woman get along in the world. It was the day authorities say he displayed a level of anger seen only in the pages of a horror story.
Robbery was the motive, police said. The physical assault and rape came as the result of the monster Sullivan says lives inside Brooks, a side from which the community must be protected.
“It just happened,” Brooks said of the sexual assault.
Holding back tears, the boy’s lawyer, Ashley Morse, told the court while her client committed a horrific act, he is still a child. According to the state, Brooks, 15 when the crime occurred inside the victim’s home, was already a binge drinker and had at least 20 sexual partners during his young life. Morse did not disagree that Brooks was well on his way to full-fledged alcoholism or something worse. But, she said his brain is not fully developed, and that he should be treated differently than adult offenders who are better equipped to make sound decisions about their impulses.
Morse asked the court for a five-year sentence.
Brooks was given credit for 418 days time served but is not currently eligible for early release. To be granted parole, he must petition another judge. R.