Bail set at $25,000 cash for Downing man accused of child assault

By LeAnn R. Ralph

MENOMONIE  —  Bail has been set at $25,000 cash in Dunn County Circuit Court for a 29-year-old Downing man accused of child sexual assault.

Brian T. Kerns is scheduled to make an initial appearance in court December 5 on three Class C felonies related to the sexual assault of a girl who was 15 when the assaults started and 16 when the assaults ended.

[emember_protected] Kerns appeared in court November 20 after being extradited to Wisconsin from Arkansas. A bench warrant was issued May 10 of this year.

Judge James Peterson set a cash bail of $25,000 at the November 20 hearing and ordered Kerns to have no contact with any girls under the age of 18.

In addition to the three Class C felonies, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf is seeking, upon conviction, to place Kerns on lifetime supervision as a sex offender.

Informant

According to the criminal complaint, the Dunn County Sheriff’s Department learned in May about a woman who had reported to the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department that Kerns was engaging in inappropriate text messages and possibly had sexual contact with a teenaged girl.

When Dunn County deputies contacted Kerns, he admitted to having oral sex with the girl and also admitted to other forms of sexual contact. In addition, Kerns admitted to inappropriate sexually explicit text messages with the girl, according to the complaint.

Deputies made contact with the girl, who told them the sexual contact with Kerns started June 1, 2015, when she was 15 years old, and ended April 2, 2016, when she was 16 years old.

The teenager told deputies she had been sexually assaulted by Kerns, and when asked how many times, she said “more than a handful” but “under 20.” The teenager said the inappropriate relationship had started with text messages when she was 13 years old, the complaint states.

The girl told deputies she had sexual intercourse with Kerns every time she had contact with him and estimated the number of times at about 20.

At this point, deputies stopped the interview so the teenager could be forensically interviewed by a social worker trained to speak with juveniles about sexual assaults.

The deputy in charge of the investigation noted he had attempted to make contact with Kerns numerous times but that Kerns had avoided all attempts at contact, according to the complaint.

Interview

In October, a forensic interviewer spoke with the teenager. During the interview, the girl became emotional and stated the defendant had sexually assaulted her on numerous occasions.

The teenager said at one point, Kerns said he “knew this was illegal” and she was “underage.”

In addition to inappropriate text messages, the teenager told the interviewer Kerns “would inquire if her friends wanted to have sex with him so they could be a threesome,” the complaint states.

During the interview, the social worker learned the girl had been sexually assaulted by Kerns between 10 and 20 times from June of 2015 to March of 2016.

Pallet factory

After the forensic interview, Dunn County deputies attempted to locate Kerns, who was employed at a pallet factory in Hudson.

A deputy made contact with Kerns, but while Kerns told the deputy he was on his break and he would call the deputy, it was the last time the deputy spoke with Kerns.

Deputies attempted contacts with Kerns’ fiance, who also refused to return calls.

An anonymous informant contacted the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department, which in turn contacted the Baldwin Police Department, to say Kerns was hiding at his mother’s residence. The informant said Kerns had stated the police were looking for him. Kerns had immediately quit his job and was hiding at his mother’s place, according to the complaint.

The Dunn County Sheriff’s Department and the Baldwin Police Department attempted to make contact with Kerns numerous times. A Dunn County deputy reported he had talked to Kerns’ mother, but she denied knowing where Kerns was located, although she did attempt to pick up Kerns’ paycheck for him and said arrangements were going to be made after she called him to pick up his check, the complaint states.

Arkansas

The deputy checked the residence in Downing and learned Kerns had left suddenly and that Kerns and his fiance had traveled to Arkansas in an attempt to flee the area, knowing Kerns was going to be taken into custody for sexual assault, according to the complaint.

Based on his investigation, the Dunn County deputy said Kerns had groomed and sexually assaulted the girl on numerous occasions, that he had used his vehicle to facilitate sex crimes and had used his Smartphone to lure the teenager to engage in sexual activity, the complaint states.

Kerns is scheduled to make an initial appearance in Dunn County Circuit Court at 10:45 a.m. December 5.

A Class C felony carries a penalty, upon conviction, of a fine of up to $100,000 and/or a prison term of 40 years. [/emember_protected]