MILWAUKEE, Wis. – For the mother of a 16-year-old boy allegedly sexually assaulted by a prominent community activist and former aide for some of the most powerful Democrats in Wisconsin, justice in Milwaukee County is a sick joke.
“It’s just a mess,” the Milwaukee County woman told Wisconsin Watchdog following reports that Mike Wilder, a top aide to Wisconsin Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, mysteriously left Larson’s campaign for Milwaukee County executive while facing a criminal investigation.
What news accounts have not reported is that Wilder, 30, a front-man activist for left-leaning causes, had been investigated by the Wauwatosa Police Department on allegations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy after months of sending him sexually explicit text messages.
And despite an extensive investigation by Wauwatosa police in which Wilder admitted to sending the lewd texts to the teen, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office – under fire for myriad allegations of misconduct – opted not to pursue a criminal case.
It’s another case, critics argue, of the disparate criminal justice system in a county whose Democrat district attorney has been accused of placing party loyalties over the rule of law.
According to the police report obtained by Wisconsin Watchdog, Wilder denied having sex with the boy and called the text messages just a “running joke” between the two. One investigator’s report, however, noted that some of the messages “reference the sexual intercourse that occurred on Aug. 21, 2015” at Wilder’s Wauwatosa apartment.
Wilder did not respond to requests for comment.
The police report is heavily redacted, but the teen’s mother and others familiar with the case confirmed the details.
Wisconsin Watchdog does not, as a general policy, identify potential victims of sexual assault or their family members.
The mother told Wisconsin Watchdog what she told investigators that the communications between Wilder and her son began months before on Facebook. The boy and Wilder exchanged private messages on May 27, and the two continued their communications through texts, messaging and phone calls.
In her report, Wauwatosa Det. Paula Roberson said the teen allowed her to access the Facebook private messages and text message conversations. The report also includes detailed accounts from the 16-year-old about the alleged sexual activity.
The mother of the boy said she suspected something was going on with her son, and eventually she asked him for his smartphone. She said that what she found shocked her.
On Sept. 5, the woman confronted Wilder at his apartment and showed him screenshots of the communications.
“I was so pissed off I just went to his house,” she recalled. Her account is also included in the police report. “I had the text messages on my phone. When he came to the door, I put them in his face. He dropped on the floor and was just shaking his head. He said, ‘ma’am this, and ma’am that.’ I said, ‘Are you serious? You’re a (expletive deleted) grown-ass man. Are you serious?’ He immediately became apologetic. I said, ‘I’m going to have your ass arrested.’ He said, ‘Please don’t do that. I’ll stay away from him. This will ruin my life.’
“That’s when I walked away and he grabbed me from behind.”
The mother alleges Wilder threw her against the wall and tried to grab her phone. A scuffle ensued. The 16-year-old got involved.
Eventually, the woman said Wilder took the phone from her and destroyed it. She then called the police.
“He was going to do whatever it took to get that phone,” she said. “I assure you, I saw the kind of rage in him that you would see in someone that has no conscience. … He was powerful. I was rolling over wherever he took me.”
“There is something about that man that’s going to come out and shock Milwaukee,” she said.
Wilder unexpectedly resigned from his position with Larson’s campaign last week. Larson campaign manager Josh Kilroy told Fox6 News in Milwaukee that Wilder quit because of a “personal matter that demanded his full attention.”
The story does not note the allegations of sexual assault of a minor.
Milwaukee County Chief Deputy District Attorney Kent Lovern told the TV station that Wilder would not be charged. The story does not say why.
Lovern did not return Wisconsin Watchdog’s requests for comment Wednesday.
But the mother of the 16-year-old said a district attorney’s official told her that no charges would be filed because it appeared that the teen tried to extort a new phone from Wilder.
Roberson’s report makes reference to the teen asking Wilder for a new phone for his mother.
“After the confrontation on September 5, 2015, there are several messages that discuss (the teen) pursuing charges and (Wilder) to buy (the teen) a brand new phone and the (teen) will make this criminal investigation go away,” the investigator wrote.
Roberson’s report also details a boy who was “conflicted” about pressing charges against the man he had befriended on Facebook and got to know over the ensuing months. The boy’s mother said as much, that her son went back and forth on whether to pursue charges. The mother was much more resolute. She said she wants to see Wilder behind bars.
When she asked why the district attorney’s office would close off further investigation given the sexual messages between Wilder and the boy, she was told that it just wasn’t a case the DA could prosecute.
That’s not how Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm felt when his office threw the book at the domestic and business partner of a former top aide to Gov. Scott Walker when Walker was Milwaukee County Executive.
Brian B. Pierick in 2014 was sentenced to 50 hours of community service and ordered to pay a $2,148 fine for contributing to the delinquency of a child. Pierick, 49 at the time, pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor as part of a deal.
Prosecutors wanted to charge him with felony child enticement and causing a child to expose his genitals.
According to court documents, Pierick said he believed he was communicating with an adult when he sent sexually explicit text messages to a 17-year-old boy in the fall of 2010.
Investigators discovered that information while searching the computers and phones of Pierick’s domestic partner, Timothy Russell, who served as Walker’s deputy chief of staff when he was county executive. Russell was sentenced to two years in prison for stealing from a county veterans organization. It was all part of Chisholm’s sweeping first John Doe probe into Republican Scott Walker’s former aides and associates – a probe that eventually led to the unconstitutional “John Doe II.”
The Milwaukee County mother of the 16-year-old said she has her suspicions about what went on behind the scenes in her son’s case.
“It seems to me a little bit like maybe these people are all connected to Mike Wilder. It seems they are covering for him or helping him along,” she said.
Wilder is well-connected in Milwaukee County’s Democratic Party and left-wing movement.
He has served as Wisconsin Voices Issue coordinator, and has worked for former U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold, according to a story by Media Trackers. Wilder also was coalition coordinator for the left-wing Wisconsin Jobs Now.
“Wisconsin Voices is an organization that helps to facilitate the partnership among far left groups such as AFSCME, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, One Wisconsin Institute, Common Cause, Voces De La Frontera, and Wisconsin Jobs Now,” Media Trackers wrote.
An official with Wisconsin Voices told Wisconsin Watchdog that Wilder no longer works for the organization, but that she would leave a message with him. He did not return that message.