A Baraboo man convicted in 1994 of manipulating a young woman into non-consensual sex on more than a dozen occasions will be released from prison this month.
Walter E. Cline has served only 20 years of a 30-year sentence for sexually assaulting a 24-year-old woman 14 times over a three-year period. However, the 59-year-old inmate must be released later this month because of an old state law.
“I want to be clear that the mandatory release date is based on the judgment of conviction provided by the sentencing court,” said Wisconsin Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook.
“DOC has no discretion to unilaterally change his release date. That authority rests with a court.”
Under old sentencing laws, Cook said, the DOC was required to release individuals once they had completed two-thirds of their sentence, which would be 20 years for a 30-year sentence.
Wisconsin lawmakers have since adopted Truth in Sentencing, under which offenders are sentenced to a term of prison time followed by a period of community supervision. However, that law only applies to felonies committed on or after Dec. 31, 1999.
The old law applies to Cline’s sentence. He was released for a short time on community supervision in 2012 and tracked with a global positioning unit. However, his probation was revoked because he was found to have viewed pornography on a computer and started a Facebook account without approval from his probation officer.
Cline was sent back to prison at that time. But his mandatory release date Aug. 16, according to the DOC. He will be living in the Baraboo area.
Case was ‘unusual’
The young woman who made allegations against Cline said she came forward after years of mistreatment because she “just broke down.” She alleged that Cline — who moved to Baraboo from Arkansas — started out by trying to touch her inappropriately, and that his actions progressed from there.
One night, the woman said, Cline offered her a soda. She drank it, but later became sick and lost consciousness. The woman later learned that Cline had taken nude photos of her while she was unconscious.
Authorities said Cline later used those photos against her, threatening to show them to her boyfriend if she didn’t perform sexual favors.
Prosecutors said Cline forced entry to the woman’s home on multiple occasions and forced her to perform sexual acts on him, even using a knife to threaten her. Cline allegedly photographed and recorded non-consensual sexual encounters with the woman on more than 100 occasions.
Investigators uncovered evidence of the nude photos Cline had taken, as well as audio and video recordings of the assaults.
The case went to trail in September 1994. Cline testified that the woman posed for the photos because she wanted to act like a model, according to an article in the Baraboo News Republic.
His attorney told jurors the woman made up the story to conceal her affair with Cline. He called her a “liar” and a “manipulator.”
According to a newspaper account, the jury took just 45 minutes to convict Cline in what was described as “one of the most unusual sexual assault cases to come through the Sauk County court system in recent years.”
Six years later, while serving prison time, Cline was convicted of peeping into staff bathrooms at the Waupun Correctional Institution to observe female guards. He was sentenced to an additional 30 days in prison. He appealed both convictions, but lost.
Notice to precede release
Cline may be released prior to Aug. 16. However, information about his exact release date and where he will be living were not available from the DOC on Monday.
Baraboo Police Chief Mark Schauf said his department will notify the public prior to Cline’s release, as required by state law.
Cook said Cline will again be placed on community supervision, and his location will be tracked at all times. He also will have to maintain regular contact with local law enforcement.
“Our big priority here is rehabilitating the offender, but also public safety,” Cook said. “He will be placed on GPS monitoring. He will be on community supervision.”
Cline is a lifetime registered sex offender. Use of information in Wisconsin’s sex offender registry to threaten, harass or intimidate a registered sex offender is illegal.