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Tweed gets one year in jail
Matthew Tweed, 36, of Belleville was sentenced to a year in jail and six years of probation Monday after pleading guilty to having sex with a teenage girl. (Times photo: Marissa Weiher)
MONROE - A Belleville man was sentenced Monday to one year in jail and six years of probation after pleading guilty to having sex with a teenage girl.

Matthew Tweed, 36, was charged with four Class C felony counts of second-degree sexual assault against a child and three Class D felony counts of child enticement. All but one of the Class C counts was dismissed.

Green County District Court Judge Thomas Vale imposed and stayed a sentence of six years in prison and an additional six years of extended supervision. Should Tweed violate his probation, Vale warned, he will face the full sentence.

Tweed was charged after a series of incidents in late 2014 when he met an underage girl running on the Badger State Trail. According to a police report, Tweed met the victim and engaged in sexual intercourse on four separate occasions.

Prosecuting attorney Jeffrey Kohl requested a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison, but Tweed's attorney, Jessa Nicholson, argued for leniency in sentencing, citing his considerable progress in accepting responsibility for his actions, his clean record and his diligence in adhering to his bail conditions.

Nicholson also argued extensively that the characterization of Tweed's offense as a forcible sexual encounter was not supported by online chat logs obtained during the investigation.

"I don't intend to blame the victim, but we have to weight the sophistication of the victim as compared to other victims of sexual assault," Nicholson said.

Nicholson said that consensual intercourse, although statutory rape, is a less aggravated offense than forcible assault. Because of this, and because of Tweed's otherwise law-abiding behavior, she argued that a prison sentence would serve no rehabilitative purpose and would only exist to teach him a lesson.

"Mr. Tweed, by all statements, gets it," Nicholson said.

The victim's mother testified at Tweed's sentencing hearing, calling his actions "perverted and pathetic" and adding that her daughter's life "was sucked out" as a result. She also said that she had been forced to stop working for long periods to care for her daughter.

"I can say I forgive you, Matt Tweed, but I can't forget," she said.

A written statement from the victim said "the defendant broke me" and that she lives "in terror and fear every second of every day."

For his part, Tweed said he took responsibility for his actions, saying "I can never say I'm sorry enough."

"Regardless of the punishment, I will not stop working on myself," Tweed said.

Tweed was remanded into the custody of the Green County Sheriff to begin his jail term after the hearing. Tweed will have work release privileges throughout his term.

Tweed's probation comes with conditions that he meet with his probation officer once a week, that he submit to random polygraph tests and that he have no contact with children other than his own without approval from his probation agent. Tweed is also required to register with the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry.

The amount of financial restitution Tweed is required to pay will be decided at a later hearing.