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Man who ‘groomed’ girl gets probation
James Dietz
James Dietz, 63, attends his sentencing hearing regarding a Class C felony charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child at the Green County Justice Center May 22. - photo by Marissa Weiher

MONROE — A Monroe man in his 60s was sentenced last week to seven years on probation for sex with a 13-year-old girl, a crime the judge described as “isolated” behavior that will nonetheless have a “dramatic impact” on the girl’s life.

James S. Dietz, 63, pleaded no contest May 22 to a Class C felony charge of second-degree sexual assault of a child. Two related felonies were dismissed as part of a plea deal.

Dietz was sentenced to one year in jail as a condition of probation, with Huber release privileges for work, counseling and his frequent medical appointments for a serious heart condition. Other probation conditions include sex offender treatment and no contact with the girl or her immediate family.

The victim in the case is requesting $10,000 in restitution from Dietz to cover the costs of her outpatient treatment, prescription medicines and ongoing psychological counseling for trauma.

An attorney for the girl wrote in a letter to the court in March that she “is likely to require such treatment for the rest of her life.”

A hearing to determine the amount of restitution is set for June 26. Dietz’s attorney, Robert Duxstad, has already suggested in a document filed with the court that he plans to challenge the amount the victim is seeking.

“There are other issues concerning (the victim)’s behavior that would have required her to seek counseling,” Duxstad wrote. “At the very least,” the court should review her healthcare records to confirm whether her treatment “can be associated with the actions of Mr. Dietz … or if other persons should be responsible for payment.”

The case stems from an investigation into Dietz’s relationship with a 13-year-old girl in 2016.

The girl and her family were going through a difficult time that year and “leaned on” Dietz and his then-wife as friends, said District Attorney Craig Nolen. Dietz assumed a fatherly role in the girl’s life, then took advantage of the dynamic and “groomed” her.

“He had that opportunity and he acted on that opportunity,” Nolen said.

According to reports from a forensic interview, the girl described having sexual intercourse with Dietz after she and her mother accompanied Dietz and his wife on a vacation to Door County. During this period, she was working for him painting a house and fixing a camper.

The girl showed investigators Facebook messages Dietz sent her during this period. In his messages to her, he made statements such as “I believe we are from a different life and someday will be the same age in another life,” “We are awesome together” and “I love you and this is the only thing that makes my life OK.”

When police interviewed Dietz about her allegations, he denied touching her inappropriately. He claimed all he did was try to help her even though everyone told him to stay away from her because “she is bad news” and a “troublemaker.”

He claimed the girl “was always trying to kiss and hug” him. A detective asked Dietz why he didn’t tell someone or walk away from the situation. Dietz responded that he was “always wanting to help people” and even went to a Christian seminar for troubled teens and bought books for the girl’s mother on how to help a troubled teen.

During this time period, Dietz was going through troubles of his own. He was having marital issues and, after 20 years of sobriety, had started drinking heavily and got hooked on opioid pain medications prescribed to him for a back injury in 2014, according to Duxstad.

“I do think the alcohol and drug issues played a part,” Duxstad said, noting that Dietz had previously led an upstanding life, associated with a “very good social group” and played cards with a card club that included the former Green County District Attorney.

Dietz faced up to 40 years in prison for the Class C felony conviction, but Duxstad and Nolen successfully argued for their joint recommendation of seven years on probation and one year in jail.

Nolen said the recommendation was made with input from the victim and her family. Duxstad said neither the victim nor her family wanted Dietz to go to prison. Dietz has no other criminal record, Duxstad and Nolen noted. A conviction for an unrelated crime when he was 19 years old has since been expunged.

Duxstad blamed Dietz’s actions on a downward spiral that resulted in “extremely poor choices” that were “completely” out-of-character for him.

In accepting the sentence recommendation, Judge Thomas Vale said it was reasonable given the absence of a history of similar behavior.

“This appears to be an isolated incident,” Vale said.

Regardless, Dietz’s actions will have a “dramatic impact” on the girls’ life, the judge acknowledged.

“There’s nothing I can do to change that,” Vale said.

Dietz declined to speak when given the opportunity at his sentencing, but both the victim and her mother read statements aloud to the court. 

The girl said Dietz’s abuse “made me think that’s how all relationships work, that I was only good for sex.”

Her mother said her daughter “is not the same person she was.” Addressing Dietz directly, she told him he took advantage of a young girl, and “we will live with the consequences of your actions for the rest of our lives.”