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Prosecutors charged a La Crosse man Thursday with child abduction and child sex trafficking after police caught him heading to Kenosha on Aug. 8 with a 17-year-old runaway.

According to a criminal complaint, the girl told police she asked 56-year-old William Gerrish for help after she ran away from her foster home on July 18. She said Gerrish gave her marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine, and had sex with her on multiple occasions at his home at 616 Fifth Ave. S.

One of Gerrish’s friends also had sex with her and gave Gerrish drugs in return, according to the complaint. She said he made her walk around the house in skimpy clothing when his friends were there to see if they were “interested” in her.

The girl said Gerrish wanted to make money by having her work as a stripper at bachelor parties. They were on their way to Kenosha, where Gerrish said he was going to do some roofing, when the car they were in was stopped on I-90 near Rockland.

According to a police report, Gerrish was in the back seat, staring straight ahead and sweating profusely. Police found 5.2 grams of marijuana in his sock and arrested him on a warrant that was issued when he failed to appear for sentencing in a 2016 drug case.

When questioned Tuesday in the La Crosse County jail, Gerrish initially denied knowing the girl. He later admitted he knows her but denied the allegations.

Gerrish was charged Thursday with seven felonies, including child abduction, two counts of child trafficking, and child enticement. The most serious charges carry a maximum 40-year sentence.

Judge Ramona Gonzalez imposed a $50,000 cash bond and ordered Gerrish jailed until his sentencing on the drug case.



Rhymes with Lubbock. La Crosse Tribune reporter and data geek. Covers energy, transportation and the environment, among other things.

(8) comments

Uncle Harry


Mo' Money Scott Walker

Was this one of the homeless guys the city had to find a home for after they evacuated tent city?


Wow this dirt bag had better sentence to the fullest extent of the law!! I hope he gets taken care of him in prison!! They hate pedophiles in there.


It would behoove The Mouse of Death to add a comment using the word polymatic.


Ramona will save him.


Another LaCrosse social workers dream case of making sure he has a safe residence in a neighborhood near you. This guy has 75 records on the circuit court blotter that goes back to when he was in his 20's. Some people never change.

And the Award goes to

Today's award goes to Lax Tribune Reporter Mike Tighe for a story he wrote over a year ago about the daily struggles of a homeless man living on a bench down by Black River beach. His story expressed sympathy over the claims from a man about his battle for space, being a victim of domestic abuse, and dealing with "diggers" that rifle through his stuff at night. I guess now you can write a follow up story about that same man, and his sleepless nights listening to his cell mate snore all night. Always do your homework first, before writing about someone (anonymous commenters excluded), especially when it was so easy to verify who it was, you were writing about. We all experience lapse of judgement, but not usually to this extent. So for that, it is my honor to award you with Today's Award! Congratulations!


He failed to appear for sentencing in 2016, and they didn't find him until now.

Excellent work.

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