A Deer Park man convicted of sexually assaulting a child was sentenced last week to 10 years in prison.
St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham sentenced Mark Allen Miller to 18 years, 10 of which must be spent in prison. The 66-year-old pleaded guilty in October to second-degree sexual assault of a child. Two other charges were dismissed as part of a plea agreement that allowed Needham to consider the offenses in his sentence.
Miller was accused of molesting children he knew. He allegedly told investigators he was guilty of "letting fun be fun" while showing affection to the children, according to a criminal complaint.
That Miller seemingly downplayed the abuse in his statements to authorities was "most telling," Needham said at the hearing.
"It is not rational, is not logical behavior," the judge said.
Two of Miller's family members spoke in support of him during sentencing — both telling Needham how his devotion to family, faith and hard work made him a role model to them.
During his time to address the court, Miller apologized to his victims, saying "I am sorry that I let you down."
He implored Needham to imagine he knew him outside the context of the criminal case, casting himself as a faithful churchgoer with a generous heart. Miller told the judge how he spent more than $1,000 on other inmates "because I have compassion for them."
Needham didn't appear to be moved by the defendant's statements. Instead, the judge admonished Miller for "the grooming that occurred" with his victims and the nature of the abuse.
"This was not isolated," Needham said. "This was repeated, continual, consistent behavior."
The judge said he struggled with Miller's plea to imagine knowing him as someone other than a criminal defendant.
"Two different people existed in this one person," Needham said of Miller.
The judge disagreed with defense attorney Mark Biller's argument that Miller's needs could be addressed through community probation rather than "the crossbar Hilton up on the hill."
"We have a very rehabilitatable candidate here," the attorney said.
Biller said he was "taken aback" by prosecution's recommendation that Miller spend 12 years in prison, calling that a likely life sentence.
Biller said Miller's inability to deal with his wife's death led to the crimes.
"The cost of Mark Miller running off the rails after his wife's death is high," he said, acknowledging the seriousness of the offense.
Needham's sentence calls for Miller to be placed on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life and to have no contact with children younger than 18 without adult supervision. The sentence also denies Miller's eligibility for the Challenge Incarceration Program.