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Jury convicts Rock Springs man of sexually exploiting child

Defense attorney Andrew Martinez of Baraboo presents his closing arguments Thursday in the trail of Charles A. Clayton-Jones.

A former Rock Springs library tutor already serving time for molesting a child was convicted of a new charge Thursday after a three-day trial.

A Sauk County jury deliberated for about 2 hours, 30 minutes before it found 51-year-old Charles A. Clayton-Jones guilty of sexually exploiting a 6-year-old boy in June 2006.

The allegation came to light in 2015 as a detective was preparing to return personal property confiscated as evidence in a 2006 child sexual assault case against Clayton-Jones. She found a memory card inside a camera that included videos of young boys.

In one video, which had not previously been seen by investigators, two naked boys made sexually explicit comments to each other and mimicked sexual acts while playing inside Clayton-Jones’ home.

Defense attorney Andrew Martinez of Baraboo said during closing arguments Thursday that evidence introduced by prosecutors demonstrating that Clayton-Jones is a pedophile was not relevant to the charge.

He said the state had not proven three elements of the offense necessary for a conviction. One element included whether Clayton-Jones was the one operating the camera when the 1 minute, 16 second video was shot.

At the end of the video, which was played for the jury multiple times, one of the boys approaches the camera while speaking to Clayton-Jones, who responds to the boy’s comments.

The prosecution noted that Clayton-Jones’ voice was prominent in the recording, indicating that he was close to the microphone and therefore was likely operating the camera.

But the defense said there was no way to be certain that it was Clayton-Jones holding the camera, and not a third boy who had been in the home that day and operated the device during one video.

“They made an assumption, because he’s a pedophile,” Martinez said. “They assumed they knew.”

Because the state did not call the boys as witnesses, Martinez said, prosecutors had denied jurors the opportunity to know for sure whether Clayton-Jones was the one filming.

Sauk County Assistant District Attorney Linda Hoffman said the two boys have been through enough, and there is no guarantee that they would have remembered details of the incident if called to testify.

“Is a 6-year-old going to remember 10 years after the fact — over 10 years later — who was holding a camcorder?” Hoffman said.

Clayton-Jones is an heir of Baraboo’s famed Ringling circus family and a former volunteer tutor at the Rock Springs Public Library. Prosecutors have said he used his position to get close to young boys and their families, bring them back to his home, and prey upon them.

He has been serving out prison sentences related to prior convictions for the sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy and bail jumping. Before Thursday’s conviction, he was due to be released on probation in January 2020.

Clayton-Jones faces a maximum possible prison term of 40 years for the child sexual exploitation conviction. He is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 22.

Follow Tim Damos on Twitter @timdamos

Reporter for the Baraboo News Republic.