The Sauk County District Attorney’s Office has added a prosecutor to deal with sexual assault cases in which the victims are adults.
The hire was made possible through a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The Sauk County District Attorney’s Office was one of seven jurisdictions in the country to receive the two-year grant.
Rick Spoentgen, a six-year veteran with the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department, has been hired as an assistant district attorney. His experience in law enforcement gives him a unique perspective.
“It can help me relate to the law enforcement officers. It can also help me relate to the victims and it helps give me a better overall picture of the entire system,” Spoentgen said.
While Spoentgen handles cases in which the victims are adults, Assistant District Attorney Linda Hoffman deals with cases in which the victims are children. Hoffman has been prosecuting sexual assault cases for more than 15 years.
She said their goal goes beyond seeking convictions. They place great importance on supporting the victims.
“I see a definite positive change in making prosecutors and law enforcement more aware of the impact of trauma on sexual assault victims,” Hoffman said.
The grant was awarded to the Sauk County District Attorney’s Office in part because of its programs to support victims of sexual assault. It was also granted to help the office deal with a growing caseload.
“For Sauk County we have the unique problem of big cities where we have the Wisconsin Dells area and we have the number of tourists that we have come into that area on a daily basis and even in the winter time. Our population up there is not very high but our visitor population is extreme and that gives us a lot of big-city problems,” Hoffman said.
The hope is that by supporting the victims of sexual assault, it will help to change the attitude of society.
“Trying to effect societal change is like trying to push a huge boulder. Well, we’re just pushing in one small aspect. Hopefully by us pushing, other people can also start to help and when the entire society or community comes together and starts to push then we can actually get it rolling and make something positive happen for the victims,” Spoentgen said.