RACINE – A Racine man, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a teenage boy over two years ago, was released from jail on August 31 after posting a $10,000 signature bond.
Adrian Fernandez, 64, of Racine, pleaded guilty to an amended charge of third-degree sexual assault in Racine County Felony Court. The assault happened in May 2016 at a McDonald’s restaurant and involved a male employee, according to court records and the Racine County District Attorney’s Office.
Charges were filed shortly after the incident allegedly happened. Fernandez has been in custody at the Racine County Jail for over two years.
DA amends charges against Fernandez
Part of a plea deal with the Racine County District Attorney’s Office, a stalking charge, second-degree sexual assault charge, and child enticement charge were dropped in August, according to court documents.
Upon entering the guilty plea to the lesser charge, Fernandez’s attorney David Saldana made a motion asking Racine County Felony Court Judge Mark F. Nielsen to modify the bond amount from a $25,000 cash bond to a $10,000 signature bond. The Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Tanck-Adams stood silent on the motion, which was granted by Nielsen on Aug. 31, according to court records.
Listed as a lifetime registered sex offender on the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry website, Fernandez was convicted of second-degree sexual assault in 1984 from a prior conviction in Kenosha County.
The boy’s father, who is not being named to protect the identity of his son, is upset that he and his wife were not notified by the Victim Witness Program, an arm of the Racine County District Attorney’s Office, of the last court date or that Fernandez was being released.
“We heard from them and received a letter about every court hearing leading up to this hearing, then… radio silence. I called and left a message when we found out and she finally called yesterday (Wednesday).”
Officials with the Victim Witness program told the boy’s father that they didn’t know Saldana was going to ask for the bond notification, and that Nielsen honored the bond modification request. They also told the boy’s father that if they would have known about the motion to amend the bond, they would have fought it, he said.
“She told my wife when asked why no one contacted us about this, she (the woman from Victim/Witness) told her ‘I have no answer for you,’” the man said.
Racine County Eye reached out to the Racine County Victim/Witness Program to ask why the family was never notified of the hearing or of Fernandez’s release.
LaTonia Lewis, Victim/Witness Coordinator, told Racine County Eye that she was not at liberty to discuss the case because it was an open case. Further questions were asked around the notification process and procedures, but Lewis referred the questions to Racine County District Attorney Tricia Hanson because the DA’s office oversees the program.
“In this case, the victim’s family DID have notice that there was to be a change of plea that day, as is required under Chapter 950,” Hanson wrote in an email. “Without notice, the defense made a bond motion, and the court made the decision to hear it despite the lack of prior notice. As you can see from CCAP, there was no prior notice to the State. With proper notice to us, proper notice to victims is always given.”
But the boy’s father said the state usually sends three letters — one to his wife, one to his son, and one to him. They all live in the same home, and none of them have seen the letter Hanson referred to, he said.
“We’ve never seen it (the letter Hanson referred to and sent to Racine County Eye),” the man said. “Also, no one told us he was released. We found out after checking on CCAP two days after the fact.”
Sexual assault happened at McDonald’s restaurant
Fernandez pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a McDonald’s employee at a Racine restaurant, over the course of two days in 2016. He visited the restaurant three times on April 30, and once on May 1.
On April 30, the employee told police he was working at the restaurant when two customers were eating at the restaurant. As the boy was cleaning the men’s bathroom, Fernandez followed him, told the boy he had a nice body and asked if he could touch him. The boy said no, and as the boy tried to leave the restroom, Fernandez touched his buttocks.
After posting bond, Fernandez was released from jail after being held in the Racine County Jail since May 31, 2016. He is set to have a sentencing hearing at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 5.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of up to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $25,000.
Editor’s note: This version of the story added further information from Hanson about the notification of the hearing and the DA’s office not knowing about the motion to amend the bond. It also added statements from the boy’s father about not having received the letter.
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