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Accused child molester to remain in La Crosse County Jail

Accused child molester to remain in La Crosse County Jail

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A La Crosse man accused of molesting an 8-year-old will remain in jail on a cash bond; however, it was lowered from $10,000 to $5,000 Thursday in La Crosse County Circuit Court.

Keith Walling, 35, requested a signature bond and to be put on electronic monitoring during the preliminary hearing in front of Judge Scott Horne. Walling, who has a previous conviction for child sexual assault, was charged in September with two counts of first-degree child sexual assault as a persistent repeater after the child reported that he initiated genital contact twice between January and September 2019, once on the child’s bed and another time in the living room, according to the complaint.

Walling’s attorney, Jeremiah Meyer-O’Day, asked for the signature bond on his client’s behalf, arguing that Walling is indigent and estranged from his family.

Keith Walling

Walling

“He would not be able to pay a dime in an event at any point, which I feel speaks to the appropriateness of cash bond as a general matter under the Eighth Amendment, but also speaks to the low likelihood that Mr. Walling will be able to flee, even if he wanted to,” Meyer-O’Day said.

Meyer-O’Day suggested Walling be released and placed on GPS monitoring and house arrest. According to the defense motion filed Wednesday, the mother of the alleged victim arranged for Walling to stay with one of her relatives.

“It’s not the same address as the alleged victim’s mother. There would be no contact between him and the alleged victim,” Meyer-O’Day said.

The defense also argued that the state’s case against Walling was weak. In the motion, Meyer-O’Day says the child has a history of lying and accuses the child’s father of encouraging the child to make false accusations against Walling.

La Crosse County Assistant District Attorney Sue Donskey objected to Walling’s bond being lowered, saying the case against him was strong and the charges were serious, especially as he is charged as a repeat offender.

“The charges are serious and he had been out on his last sentence less than two months after the incidents are occurring. I think the potential to run is great given that he is charged as a persistent repeater and facing a life sentence,” Donskey said.

Donskey also expressed concern for the child.

“I think the complaint does lay out that Mom has been less than protective of (the alleged victim), and the information coming in from the mom about her (child) are subject to credibility questions,” Donskey said.

According to the complaint, the child disclosed the inappropriate touching to a therapist Sept. 4 and again Sept. 10, and preliminary testing of the child’s bedding showed evidence of semen. It has been sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab for further testing.

If convicted on either of the two charges, Walling faces a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment without possibility of parole or extended supervision, due to his previous conviction of a serious child sex offense.

Walling pleaded guilty in 2005 to second-degree child sexual assault, admitting to molesting a 5-year-old when he was 20. He was sentenced to five years in prison and six years on probation. That probation was revoked twice due to violating conditions, and he spent a total of eight years incarcerated.


Jourdan Vian can be reached at jvian@lacrossetribune.com or follow her on Twitter at @Jourdan_LCT.

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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

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