MADISON (AP) A Port Washington man convicted of sexual assault for getting his then 15-year-old girlfriend pregnant lost an appeal Wednesday.
The 2nd District Court of Appeals in Waukesha rejected Kevin Gillson's contention that statements he made to police should not have been used as evidence at trial because he was not read his rights prior to questioning.
A Port Washington police officer testified that Gillson admitted that he and the girl had sexual intercourse several times in 1996, when Gillson was 18 and the girl was 15.
The court ruled that any error the officer made in neglecting to read Gillson his rights was harmless because the other evidence was enough to convict him of sexual assault of a child, a felony.
Gillson was convicted in April 1997, drawing national attention. The girl, Stephanie Damiana, testified that she and Gillson had sex three to five times after they started dating.
The court noted that at trial, Gillson did not dispute the fact that he and the girl had sex, but instead argued that the sex resulted from a loving relationship and that the two planned to marry and support their child.
Gillson was sentenced to two years on probation and ordered to undergo counseling, perform 100 hours of community service and try to complete high school or get an equivalency degree.
Gillson, now 20, has a month to decide whether to appeal to the state Supreme Court. His attorney, Doug Stansbury of Milwaukee, said Gillson is a “good young man" and does not deserve a felony conviction.
Gillson and Damiana have joint custody of their 1-year-old son, Christopher. Gillson, who works full-time at a Grafton factory and started a disc-jockey business, pays child support.
“I think the thing that bothers him most is that when Christopher is old enough to know what that means, Kevin has to tell him his dad's a felon," Stansbury said.
Damiana, 17, married a roofer from Grafton this summer.
Ozaukee County District Attorney Sandy A. Williams said she was pleased that the appeals court upheld Gillson's conviction. She said she has no regrets about her controversial decision to pursue a felony conviction.
“People who have sex with minors will be brought into the criminal justice system," Williams said. “This case was no different from the other hundreds of cases that go on in the state with the exception that this one generated publicity."
Gillson faced the prospect of being branded a sex offender for life under a Wisconsin law that requires people convicted of sex crimes to register with police so their names can be added to a state sex-offender registry.
But legislation inspired by Gillson's case and signed last spring by Gov. Tommy Thompson changed the law to let judges decide whether teen-agers 18 or younger convicted of sex crimes must register with police as sex offenders.
Circuit Judge Tom Wolfgram removed Gillson from the registry in June