Welton Found Guilty

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MTT News's picture
Kevin Murphy

MADISON–A Middleton man was found guilty on Oct. 24 of three counts of child sexual assault in connection with touching two girls, in instances eight years apart, at Harbor Athletic Club swimming pools.

Kevin Welton, 59, faces maximum penalties of 60 years in prison per count at his Jan. 27 sentencing before Dane County Circuit Judge Susan Crawford. She continued Welton’s release on conditions.

After a two-day trial, jurors needed about two hours to convict Welton on the two counts of First-Degree Sexual Assault of a Child Under 13 and one count of Attempted First-Degree Sexual Assault of a Child Under 13.

Middleton police investigated a report in 2010 in which Welton was alleged to have made sexual contact with a seven-year-old girl at an indoor pool at Harbor Athletic. The case was dropped after police determined a crime hadn’t been committed, Assistant District Attorney Erin Karshen said in closing remarks to jurors.

After this incident, Harbor Athletic staff were told to “keep an eye,” on Welton, she said.

In June 2018 a parent told Harbor staff that a man, later learned to be Welton, had touched her six-year-old daughter on the buttocks and crotch while in the outdoor swimming pool. 

A subsequent second touch constituted the third count, Karsten said.

To be convicted, Karshen had to prove three elements; that the girl was under 13 years of age, intentional contact was made to the genital area, and for the purpose of Welton’s sexual gratification.

There was no dispute as to either victims’ age, Karshen said, and Welton’s actions, caught in 2018 on Harbor’s video at the outdoor pool, proved the two other elements.

She said the video showed Welton out of the pool sunning himself until children began using the pool. Harbor Athletic has four pools plus hot tubs, but Welton choose one frequented by children and sat near the steps where children would enter the pool, Karshen said.

Welton stayed and swam in the shallow end, where children were, even though there were less people in deeper water. Welton didn’t make any contact with boys in the pool and stood up when they came near. However, he put on swim goggles and swam over to a girl who was petite, blonde, and about the same age as the 2010 victim, Karshen said. 

In two instances, Welton reached out and touched the girl, she said.

“(The girl) was terrified and told her mom. Some complete stranger had touched her twice,” Karshen said. 

Welton’s attorney, Robert Ruth, said the video showed an entirely different story. Welton had his back to the girl in the outdoor pool and any contact he had with her was accidental and consistent with swimming motions.

“He didn’t grab, or rub or fondle her, it was a swipe which could be a swimming motion,” he said.

In the 2010 incident, the girl, now a teenager, told an entirely different story about her encounter with Welton in the pool and the prosecutors added it to the case. However, no one else reported seeing Welton’s contact with the girl in 2010, and it’s possible that she exaggerated the situation years later, Ruth said.

In her rebuttal, Karshen said Welton also chose the pool in 2010 that was most frequently by children so he “can touch girls under water and get away with it. That’s his sexual gratification.”

Karshen and Matthew Torbenson, two prosecutors from Milwaukee County, were appointed special prosecutors in the case to avoid a conflict of interest that Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne believed his office would have had with other individuals involved in the prosecution.

The case originally was scheduled for June and the jury was picked but Middleton police body camera video was discovered just before proceedings began and Crawford postponed the trial until the parties had a chance to review it.

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