Mental capacity of sexual assault suspect questioned

Judge sets $15,000 cash bond

Published On: Jan 30 2013 02:32:42 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 08 2013 07:40:39 PM CST
MONROE, Wis. -

A 17-year-old Monroe man facing numerous sexual assault charges made his first appearance in Green County Circuit Court on Monday via video conference from jail.

Michael P. Gifford is charged with repeated sexual assault of a child, physical abuse of a child, misdemeanor battery, incest and second-degree sexual assault.

Gifford's competency to stand trial is being called into question.

"We're going to get him out," defense attorney Guy Taylor said leaving the courtroom.

A judge decided to hold Gifford on a $15,000 cash bond, but Taylor argued he should be in the care of his grandmother until he can be admitted into a group home.

"I'm sure the state will come to its senses at some point," Taylor said.

The criminal complaint accuses Gifford of sexually assaulting a younger relative.

According to the criminal complaint, a friend of the victim alerted police to the situation. That friend said the victim was texting her about being tired of Gifford "raping" her, according to the complaint.

The police later tracked down the alleged victim, who described sexual assaults taking place over six months with the latest incident occurring at the start of this year, according to the complaint.

Once arrested, Gifford denied the allegations.

In court documents, the detectives who dealt with Gifford said that it is likely he has the intelligence of a 9-year-old.

"That's an issue that the defense is going have to raise as to his mental capacity," Assistant District Attorney Jeff Kohl explained. "And it may come up, and it may be a deciding factor in what happens."

The criminal complaint indicates the victim's guardians told police that the victim made similar allegations a few years ago. Kohl insisted that family's statements are untrue and only rumors were looked in to. He said the victim never made a case, and Gifford was never charged with a similar crime until now.

"That's simply a false statement being made by, as I said in court, some of the relatives who are circling the wagons around him," Kohl said.

"I have faith in the criminal justice system, and I have faith that he'll be released, because this isn't appropriate," Taylor said.

The case will be back in court Friday for a bond review.