A Middleton man who fled to China after he was charged with repeatedly sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl was sentenced Tuesday to 12 years in prison.
The sentence handed down by Circuit Judge Ellen Berz could keep Larry A. Yunker, 69, in prison for the rest of his life, but it will certainly keep him under state Department of Corrections control.
The incidents happened in 2018 and 2019 in both Dane and Langlade counties, which consolidated the cases in March, when Yunker pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree sexual assault of a child.
For the Dane County conviction, Berz sentenced Yunker to 12 years in prison followed by 10 years of extended supervision. For the Langlade County conviction, she also ordered prison, but stayed that sentence and placed Yunker on 10 years of probation, to begin once he finishes his sentence for the Dane County conviction.
Yunker was first charged in Langlade County in February 2019, after it came to light that Yunker had been involved in what a criminal complaint called a sexual relationship with the girl. Evidence of the relationship was found in text messages from Yunker that the girl’s mother found on the girl’s phone.
Yunker was arrested shortly after he arrived at the Antigo Public Library to pick up the girl, according to the complaint.
About four months later, Yunker was charged in Dane County for an assault involving the same girl that had happened at Yunker’s home in Middleton in 2018.
Yunker, an Air Force veteran and retired postal worker, was a hard worker, good to his friends and family and pleaded guilty rather than force the girl to testify at a trial, Berz said. Those factors were in his favor, she said.
But when Yunker was caught, Berz said, he first denied the allegations, then minimized the number and extent of the assaults, then admitted to them — but blamed the victim. Then he claimed not to be sexually attracted to teenagers.
“If that was not the motivation, then you wouldn’t have engaged in these behaviors to humiliate, to harm, to traumatize, and that shows a not-great character,” Berz said.
The victim, Berz said, had already been the victim of sexual assault before Yunker repeatedly assaulted her, “so this was a re-victimization of someone who already had the label of ‘victim’ on her.”
In October 2019, after Yunker was charged, he left the U.S. and went to China, where he claimed he had gone to get medical treatment not available in the U.S. He overstayed his visa and was arrested by the Chinese government in November 2020. He was kept locked up there until arrangements could be made to send him back to the U.S. in August 2021.
China and the U.S. do not have an extradition treaty, Deputy District Attorney William Brown said.
And once back on American soil, in a jail in Virginia, Berz said, Yunker fought extradition back to Wisconsin.
“Again, I understand the impulse, but even when the writing is on the wall, your character leads you to say, ‘I’m not going to face up. I’m not going to man up. I’m not going to take responsibility. I’m going to do everything I can to run away. To not be held accountable.’”
Yunker asked for leniency, sobbing at times as he did, telling Berz that he is not a bad person, that “never in my mind was my action premeditated or intended. This was my first and only offense in life.”
But Berz said this wasn’t just one stumble, it was a long series of many, which Yunker could have ended at any point, but didn’t.
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Source: American Military News