A Chippewa Falls man was sentenced Friday to five years in prison for having a sexual relationship with a girl under 16, violating a restraining order and breaking the terms of his probation.
Steven Burich, 20, of 1307 Water St., Chippewa Falls was convicted of second-degree sexual assault of a child and two misdemeanors counts of fourth-degree sexual assault.
According to a criminal complaint, a Chippewa Falls investigator found multiple sexual conversations between Burich and a girl younger than 16 on Burich’s cell phone.
Burich then admitted to having consensual sex with the girl.
The sexual activity occurred between July and August 2017, according to court records.
In addition to jail time, Judge Steven Cray also gave Burich five years of probation for the second-degree sexual assault charge.
“Our society ... has set some very strong red lines. One of them is there are certain people in our community, because of their age, are too young to engage in sexual conduct,” Cray said Friday. “And you have crossed that line.”
In January, Burich was sentenced to three years of probation and was ordered to have no contact with the victim.
Burich made a re-appearance in court in July, when Cray revoked his deferred prosecution agreement, and sentenced him to six months in jail for the two misdemeanors.
Friday, Chippewa County District Attorney Wade Newell recommended a six-year prison sentence and 10 years of probation.
“The defendant really doesn’t do anything or try to change his ways at all, even though he’s given tools to do that,” Newell said, adding that Burich has “cognitive limitations.”
“I’m torn between (two things), how do we make Mr. Burich a better person, but how do we protect the community from Mr. Burich who doesn’t want to change his ways,” Newell said.
Burich’s attorney, George Miller, asked for probation and 12 months of jail time.
Burich has “suffered tremendous abuse” and needs a “stabilizing influence” of a counselor, Miller said.
During his sentencing, Burich read from a prepared statement, and apologized for his actions.
“I think what’s best for me and the community is that I live in a group home for the length of my probation,” he said, also asking to be banned from using social media: “I just think it gets me into trouble.”
Cray acknowledged the mental health and other issues Burich faces, but said Burich does not have the social boundaries to keep from committing the same behavior.
“I do not see significant remorse or repentance,” Cray said. “I don’t believe that you or society will benefit from simply sitting in a prison cell. What you need is counseling and treatment.”
Cray granted 81 days credit for time served.
According to the terms of Burich’s probation, he must not have any contact with the victim, have no contact with anyone under 18 without his agent’s permission and must not enter bars or taverns.