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Court upholds term for man who 'groomed' victims

A St. Croix County man convicted of repeatedly sexually assaulting his long-time girlfriend's daughters and sentenced in 2003 to 80 years in prison will stay there.

In a decision filed June 2, the District III Court of Appeals affirmed two consecutive 40-year prison terms for Don Allan Ray Dougan, now 52. Those terms, plus a sentence on a firearm possession conviction, would keep him in prison for 82 years.

While Dougan argued that, given his age, the prison term imposed by Judge Eric Lundell is equal to a life sentence, the appeals judges replied that courts are "not required to consider a defendant's life expectancy at sentencing."

In February 2003 a St. Croix County jury found Dougan guilty of repeated sexual assault of two pre-teen girls in incidents that occurred between May 2001 and May 2002.

According to Internet court records, Dougan is currently at Waupun Correctional Institution. In his appeal, he claimed his attorney was ineffective and the judge exceeded sentencing discretion.

Dougan argued that his public defender attorney was ineffective for, among other things, failing to try to get a felon in possession of firearm charge dismissed before trial.

"This argument is based on Dougan's belief that he was legally permitted to possess firearms. Dougan is mistaken," responded the appeals court.

The felony conviction that led to that restriction was Dougan's 1984 conviction in Minnesota for fourth-degree sexual assault of his 13-year-old cousin. While the Minnesota requirement that he not have a gun lapsed in 1998, Wisconsin's standards are different and those were in effect, according to the appeals decision.

Dougan also claimed that if his attorney had tried to sever the firearm possession charge from the sexual assault charges, the jury wouldn't have known about the earlier child sexual assault conviction.

Again the appeals judges ruled against Dougan, noting that the county judge had allowed that information to be used as "other acts" evidence.

That was both proper and relevant given the similarities between the victims, wrote the appeals judges.

"The victims were of similar ages and there was a familial or quasi-familial relationship between Dougan and each of the victims," says the ruling. And, even though the prior conviction was 19 years earlier, "...the earlier assault is relevant in that it suggests a pattern of seeking sexual gratification from young girls with whom Dougan has a familial-type relationship."

Primary factors a judge must consider in sentencing are the gravity of the offense, protection of the public and the character and rehabilitation potential of the offender.

The appeals court found that Lundell appropriately considered those factors, finding that punishment and protection of the public were most important.

Lundell, said the appeals court, was particularly concerned "with Dougan's process of 'grooming' his victims over the course of months and years."

ng for yet another chance."

Lundell said probation and counseling had evidently not worked for Dougan, and the county judge imposed a sentence greater than that recommended by the prosecuting attorney.

Judy Wiff

Judy Wiff has been regional editor for RiverTown’s Wisconsin newspapers since 1996. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism and sociology from UW-River Falls. She has worked as a reporter for several weekly newspapers in Wisconsin.

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