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Nafzger gets 18 mos. for child assault
Micki Nafzger attends his sentencing hearing regarding sexual assault charges at the Green County Justice Center April 26. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - Even after one of his victims confronted him in court, a Monroe man who raped two preteen girls and molested a third did not offer an apology or express remorse at his sentencing hearing Thursday in Green County Circuit Court.

Micki Fredrick Nafzger, 24, was himself only 13 years old at the time of the crimes in 2007. His two rape victims, and a third victim in 2008, were all 10 or younger at the time.

Charges in the case were filed nearly a decade later, in September 2016, after accusations came to the attention of a detective with the Green County Sheriff's Office.

If Nafzger had been prosecuted right away, he would have gone through the juvenile justice system and faced a lesser sentence. Now, convicted in adult court, he was eligible for a much harsher sentence.

"We're essentially doing a bit of time travel here," Judge Thomas Vale said. But, he added, "this is a grave offense, whether you're 13 or not. Certainly, it is a horrible crime. You've taken that innocence from children. To some degree, their childhood ended with that incident."

Vale sentenced Nafzger to two years in prison, minus about six months of sentence credit for his time spent in the Green County Jail since last fall. Vale also ordered Nafzger to spend five years on extended supervision after his prison release, with conditions that he complete a sex offender assessment, get counseling and treatment for substance abuse and maintain full-time employment or education.

Nafzger entered a plea deal in the case in February. Initially charged with multiple counts of first-degree sexual assault of a child younger than 12, he pleaded no contest to lesser offenses: a Class F felony charge of causing mental harm to a child and three Class A misdemeanor counts of exposing genitals to a child.

The case is based on two incidents.

In the summer of 2007, according to the criminal complaint, Nafzger was staying in a family's home when he went into a bedroom where two girls were in bed. He asked the girls if they wanted to play a game. They said yes. He promised "it's going to be fun" and that they shouldn't be scared because "it's normal and it happens."

While he then raped one of the girls as she cried, he looked at the other girl and told her, "You're next." After he raped the second girl, he left the room. The girls locked the door behind him.

A third victim told investigators Nafzger molested her at her family's house the following summer.

All three victims have said that Nafzger's actions have a continuing and daily impact on their lives, said Assistant District Attorney Laura Kohl. As the case has gone through the court system, "at various points, they don't want to deal with it anymore ... they just want it to be over."

"Frankly, it's been torturous for them to go through this," Kohl said.

Only recently has Nafzger begun to acknowledge the incidents with the girls.

"He's just barely acknowledging that anything happened," Kohl said.

By the age of 13, Nafzger was already both a perpetrator and a victim. He suffered a turbulent childhood, by the account of both Kohl and defense attorney Steven Zaleski.

Nafzger was abandoned by his biological parents at a young age and raised by grandparents and then as a ward of the state, said Zaleski. Nafzger had "no significant father figure" and "lacked all structure, stability and guidance." He was also molested at a young age, but those perpetrators were never charged, according to Zaleski.

By the time he was a teenager, Nafzger had already been through the juvenile justice system for a multitude of crimes, including fourth-degree sexual assault of a young boy, thefts, receiving stolen property and possessing drug paraphernalia, Kohl said. Burglaries he committed at the age of 16 were later charged and sentenced in adult court. He will be on extended supervision for those crimes until 2021.

"While he was in the juvenile system, they tried everything with him," Kohl said. "All their resources were exhausted. He was waived into adult court at 16. For someone as young as he is, he's been through everything under the sun. Pretty much everything under the sun has been tried on him and failed to work."

Nafzger fell into drug abuse at a relatively young age. Zaleski contended that Nafzger's drug addiction is his main issue, not violent or sexually predatory behavior.

Besides the sexual assaults of the three girls and young boy when Nafzger was a juvenile, Nafzger has no other violent or sex-related crimes on his record.

"He's had a lot of hurt in his life," Kohl said. The challenge now, she added, is making sure he starts talking about his childhood, faces his past actions and develops better coping skills, ideally in "a highly structured setting." She recommended a five-year prison sentence.

When given the opportunity to speak, Nafzger turned to his lawyer and whispered, "Should I make a statement?" After Zaleski responded, Nafzger brought the microphone closer and gave a statement that focused on his drug addiction, his hope of completing drug treatment and the difficulty of opening up emotionally in prison.

Nafzger said he wanted acknowledgement for the positive decisions he's made.

"She's been citing all the past history that I have," he said, referring to Kohl. "That's all there. They don't look at the positive side ... I asked for help."

After he finished, one of his rape victims, who had been sobbing quietly in the back of the courtroom earlier in the hearing, asked to speak to the court. She had previously declined to speak.

In the aftermath of the "awful" rape, she said, "I held it in ... It's very hard holding on to it."

She said her family tried to help Nafzger and she felt close to him for years despite what he did.

"We gave him chance after chance," she said.

She then turned to Nafzger and addressed him directly.

"My dad and mom loved you so much," she told him. Her voice rose and broke with emotion. "I can still say that I love you. But you need to hit rock bottom. You need to pay the consequences."

When given the opportunity to respond, Nafzger said he "cannot deny" the convictions in his plea deal.

"I'm owning up to it," he said, referring specifically to the charge of causing mental harm to a child.

But, he added, the victim sent him letters and pictures when he was a teen in prison and he wondered why she would do this if she was so upset. He did not offer her an apology or express remorse.