Parent volunteer gets 6 years for sexual assault
Pico assaulted girl while volunteering at Summit Elementary
Anthony R. Pico, a former parent volunteer at Summit Elementary School, was sentenced Feb. 25 to six years in prison and 10 years extended supervision by Judge William J. Domina for inappropriately touching an 8-year-old student at the school.
Pico, 42, was charged April 27, 2012, in Waukesha County Circuit Court with first-degree sexual assault; a jury convicted him Dec. 19, 2012. Pico said he will appeal the jury's decision.
About 30 people attended the sentencing, including Pico's wife of 16 years, Michelle Pico, sister-in-law Debra Spang and family friend Christopher George. All three spoke in Pico's defense, describing him as a loving father and husband who, in the words of his wife, "is like a light switch," always happy and full of humor.
"We just so desperately need the light of my husband in our lives," she tearfully told the judge.
George, who said he has been a friend of the family for five years, said he respected the way the way the Picos raised their children and the love they showed each other.
"I would still trust my two daughters, who are the jewels of my life, with him and his wife," he said.
Pico's brother, in a letter to the judge, wrote that Pico was "a different person" after suffering a significant head injury in a 1992 motorcycle accident.
Pico, in his own defense, said he was, "absolutely crushed" about making the child feel uncomfortable, but denied intentionally touching her inappropriately.
"I feel regret that my unthinking actions have hurt so many people, and I am deeply sorry," he said.
According to the criminal complaint, Summit Elementary Principal Robin Wilson told police that Pico volunteered at the school every Friday. On April 20, 2012, Pico was volunteering in his daughter's class when he touched his daughter's friend inappropriately.
Guidance counselor Jodie Jens told police the victim told her that Pico stroked her leg and touched her vagina while they practiced reading together, according to the criminal complaint. The girl told her parents that Pico had touched her inappropriately, but she felt bad reporting it because she was friends with Pico's daughter, the complaint said.
Pico told police that the girl had told him to tickle her, so he did, the complaint said. He knew it was inappropriate, but maintained that he tickled only her leg, knee and thigh. He later changed his statement, the complaint said, telling police he decided to tickle her after her leg rubbed against him.
He said his hand may have gone up her leg, "a little bit," and while bringing his hand back down it went under her pants by mistake. He said he did not know why he did it, and felt terrible about it, the complaint said.
According to documents filed by the defense, Pico was charged in California in 1994 with misdemeanor annoying or molesting a child under 18 and sexual battery, but the charges resulted in a plea deal.
Pico's attorney, Jonathan Lavoy, asked that Pico be sentenced to extended supervision with sex offender treatment, arguing that Pico, a stay-at-home dad, was a wonderful father to his two children and while his behavior during the incident was inexplicable, it was a one-time event and was not preplanned.
But Prosecutor Debra Blasius requested that Pico be imprisoned for eight years, arguing that he was "brazen" to touch the girl in a classroom and abused his position of trust, as both a school volunteer and as the father of the girl's best friend.
"Only Mr. Pico put himself into this situation," she told the judge. "He certainly did not take into account how this would affect the girl, the girl's family or his own family."
Domina said he took into consideration several factors, including the support of Pico's family and friends, his employment history, prior violations and medical history.
He said he had trouble understanding who Pico was, describing him as an "enigma." "Either what (the victim) reported is untrue, or there are two sides to you," Domina told Pico.
Domina said that he believed the victim's testimony and was "offended" that Pico did not have the courage to acknowledge what he did. "You are, in essence, calling her a liar by not admitting what you did," he said.
He said he did not think Pico would commit more crimes in the future, but "I don't think anyone in the courtroom would have suspected him of this incident to begin with."
Domina sentenced Pico to six years imprisonment and 10 years extended supervision after his release. The maximum prison sentence for first-degree sexual assault is 60 years.
Among other restrictions, he was ordered to only use a computer for employment purposes and must be supervised by the employer during use. He may have contact with his family, including his children, while incarcerated, but only in a supervised setting.
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