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La Crosse man sentenced to 11 years for molesting girl

La Crosse man sentenced to 11 years for molesting girl

From the What you missed this week in notable La Crosse crimes and court cases series
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A La Crosse man was sentenced Tuesday to 11 years in prison and 6 years on extended supervision for molesting a girl for years, touching her inappropriately and exposing himself.

Vanin McKinnon, 42, will be a lifetime member of the sex offender registry and undergo sex offender treatment until he understands the lifelong injury his actions caused, according to Judge Elliott Levine. McKinnon was convicted of repeated sexual assault of the same child in September.

“I don’t think you have any clue about the years of pain she’ll go through, trying to figure out why this happened to her the way it did,” Levine said. “I’ll just say this for the family, this was not her fault. This was never her fault. She was a child when she was subjected to this.”

Vanin McKinnon

McKinnon

McKinnon was a surrogate father for the child before he started molesting her when she was 7. When the girl told him to stop, he told her she really liked it and refused.

Levine said McKinnon’s actions devastated the whole family after the girl reported the abuse to her mother and her grandmother witnessed one assault.

The child’s mother was charged in 2017 and found not guilty in a court trial of failure to protect a child from sexual assault. Her grandmother pleaded guilty in 2018 to neglecting a child. The Tribune is not naming the women to protect the identity of the victim.

Assistant District Attorney Brittney Wagner asked Levine to sentence McKinnon to 15 years in custody, arguing that his actions were hurtful and the victim will be dealing with the fallout and trauma for the rest of her life.

She said McKinnon failed to take responsibility for his actions in this case, as well as in his previous 2009 conviction, in which he sexually assaulted with a 16-year-old when he was 32.

“He does not take any responsibility for this in my opinion. In reading the (pre-sentencing report), he states that he was blackmailed by a 16-year-old, that he did not want it, that he was forced to have sexual contact. That simply defies common sense,” Wagner said.

In this case, McKinnon described the contact as accidental, while the jury found it was intentional, Wagner said, describing the allegations in detail.

“These are all intentional acts. These are not accidents,” she said.

McKinnon’s attorney, Thomas Rhodes, asked for six years incarcerated and eight on supervision, arguing McKinnon has mental health problems and that treatment would prevent him from re-offending. Trauma from McKinnon’s life impacted his behavior, and he will have the chance to address that head-on while in custody, Rhodes said.

Those things make McKinnon a good candidate for supervision, Rhodes said, arguing that the sex offender supervision is harsh with strict rules.

“They are strict and they are strictly enforced,” he said.

Levine agreed with the state that McKinnon’s statement paints himself as the victim and agreed with the defense that there are issues McKinnon will need to address in treatment.

“These are traumas in your background which you then perpetuated on children. It means you have to get through that, and you have to face what you did and get through that. too,” Levine said.

McKinnon will receive 811 days credit for time spent in the La Crosse County Jail. After he is released from prison, he will not be allowed to have contact with minors, drink alcohol or use the internet. He will also be required to pay supervision fees.


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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