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La Crosse man who sexually assaulted, impregnated 13-year-old sentenced to 16 years

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A 40-year-old La Crosse man was sentenced on Monday to 16 years after sexually assaulting a child who was 13 years old at the time, causing her to become pregnant.

La Crosse man who sexually assaulted, impregnated 13-year-old sentenced to 16 years

Bruce L. Nelson, right, of La Crosse addresses the court on Monday, May 9, 2022 next to his attorney, Zachariah Fudge. He was sentenced to 16 years for the sexual assault of a middle schooler who became pregnant as a result.

Bruce L. Nelson faced up to 65 years in prison after being charged in 2019 for repeated sexual assault of a child, child enticement, contributing to truancy and resisting an officer.

Judge Elliot Levine said Nelson groomed and manipulated a middle schooler, and repeatedly sexually assaulted her, eventually impregnating her.

Nelson pled guilty at a plea hearing in February.

“Our lives are forever changed by Bruce Nelson,” the victim’s mother told the court on Monday. She said Nelson groomed her daughter after meeting her online, lied about his age, provided her with a cell phone for communication, entered their home, and picked her daughter up from a middle school without permission.

“What has happened has forever taken my daughter’s innocence away from her,” the mother said, stating that her daughter chose to place the child up for adoption.

The victim’s family asked the court for the maximum sentence. Nelson’s attorney Zachariah Fudge requested the court consider probation.

“I truly am sorry, and I’m sorry for the family. I know I messed up, I know I did wrong, and at the time I couldn’t admit that I was in the wrong. But I know I was,” Nelson said on Monday.

He continued saying, “I hope one day that you all will forgive me. But I didn’t mean to tear your family apart or make her feel, or any one of you all feel how you all feel today.”

Levine said that Nelson’s ability to mislead or manipulate individuals was a “type of cognitive behavior that’s scary.” He described actions such as providing the victim with her own phone to control communication as “extremely predatory.”

“Probation would be absolutely and completely inappropriate in this situation,” Levine said.

Nelson’s 16-year sentence includes 10 years of incarceration and six years of extended supervision.

Additionally, Nelson will be a lifetime registered sex offender and be subjected to an evaluation under Wisconsin’s Ch. 980 law at the time of his release, which can indefinitely commit someone as a sexually violent person after they complete a sentence.

Nelson will also participate in a sex offender treatment program and will be required to have no contact with the victim or her family, or anyone under the age of 18 unless approved.

No restitution was requested by the victim’s family, though they have 60 days to do so.

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