Anthony Stancl, who used the social networking site Facebook to deceive and coerce fellow New Berlin Eisenhower High School students into sexual acts with him in 2008, was sentenced Wednesday to 15 years in prison and another 13 years of extended supervision.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge J. Mac Davis imposed the sentence because he said Stancl had proven he was manipulative, excessively self-centered and could still be dangerous.
"I am afraid of what he can and might do," Davis said.
In a case that attracted national media attention, Stancl, 19, of New Berlin, posed as a female on Facebook and persuaded at least 31 boys to send him naked pictures of themselves. He then used the pictures - and the threat of releasing them to the rest of the high school - to blackmail at least seven boys, ages 15 to 17, into performing sex acts.
Before the sentence was imposed, Stancl apologized to the victims and their families, the New Berlin School District and his own family, especially a brother and sister who continued to attend New Berlin schools and faced what Stancl called a hostile environment.
"I put you through a terrible situation," he said.
District Attorney Brad Schimel asked for substantial prison time, without being specific. No victims spoke at the sentencing, but some had sent letters asking for substantial prison time. Some of the victims were hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or required medication or therapy, Schimel said.
Defense attorney Craig Kuhary had suggested five years in prison and 10 years of supervision. He said that Stancl's crimes stemmed from his internal struggles with his homosexuality, especially after he was "outed" by an older boy with whom he had a sexual relationship in school.
"Once word got out that he was gay, everything shut down," Kuhary said. He went from being marginally popular as a member of the Academic Decathlon and golf teams to being isolated and feeling cornered.
Kuhary said that psychologists with long experience in testing for sexual deviancy concluded that Stancl was not a deviant, such as a pedophile. He said that while Stancl does need therapy and psychologists think he could be treated in the community, he deserves punishment for the harm he did to others.
Schimel said substantial prison time was needed because of the number of victims, the scheming nature of the crime and the impact on victims.
Schimel also cited a 2004 juvenile case in which Stancl, then 13, was found delinquent for sexual assault of a 3-year old in a home where he was a babysitter.
Davis said that it would be a mistake to put too much weight on the psychologists' prediction of whether Stancl would reoffend.
"I don't know," he said. "No one knows."
Stancl initially was charged with a dozen felonies, including repeated sexual assault of the same child, possession of child pornography, two counts each of second- and third-degree sexual assault, five counts of child enticement and one count of causing a bomb scare.
As part of a plea agreement, he pleaded no contest to and was convicted Dec. 22 of two felonies - repeated sexual assault of the same child and third-degree sexual assault. In exchange, the 10 other felony counts were dismissed but considered in sentencing. He could have faced 30 years in prison and 20 years of extended supervision.
Davis banned Stancl from having any contact with the victims or their families, or the New Berlin School District, or any minors except with permission of his correctional supervisor. He must register as a sex offender and cannot use the Internet except with permission of his supervisor.
Stancl was arrested in November as the result of an investigation that started with school bomb threats traced to an e-mail sent from a New Berlin Public Library computer at a time when he was logged on. In the follow-up, one of Stancl's victims came forward, first to his parents and then police, about the sexual assaults.
The case attracted national attention at a time when evidence of "sexting" - sending sexually explicit messages electronically - was becoming more commonplace and a greater cause for parental concern.
After the sentence was imposed, with Stancl taken immediately to prison, Schimel said outside the courtroom that he wasn't sure this case, with all its publicity, was getting through to kids, because new cases of sexting have continued to occur.
"I'm just not sure they're hearing this message," he said. "I hope their parents are."