Serial horse abuser sentenced on latest charges

Sterling Rachwal appears in Brown County court Jan. 12, 2018. (WLUK/Tim Flanigan)

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- A Green Bay man has been convicted and sentenced on four misdemeanor counts for having inappropriate contact with horses.

Sterling Rachwal, 54, was sentenced Friday to two years on probation and time already served in jail. He pleaded no contest to charges stemming from an incident on Feb. 17, 2017 at a Town of Eaton farm in Brown County and an incident in Manitowoc County where video captured by a trail camera shows a horse being assaulted April 29 by someone who appears to be Rachwal.

The two cases were combined in Brown County court.

In both cases the charges are misdemeanors meaning only jail, not prison time, can be given.

Before Rachwal's sentence, the judge questioned Rachwal's actions.

"Mr. Rachwal, I don't really know what happened here. I mean, it's clearly very sick and very depraved what you're charged with and what you pled to. It's just an awful thing for cruelty to the animals. It's a horrible offense to them," said Judge Timothy Hinkfuss.

Kyle Kapinos, the son of a Manitowoc County horse owner, talked in court. He blamed Rachwal for abusing two family horses. One of those horses had to be sold. Kapinos says the horse became too unpredictable.

"That horse was a great horse and while we had him, he never did anything wrong until this past year. He didn’t deserve what happened to him and nor did I," said Kyle Kapinos.

Rachwal is no stranger to the courtroom. He has multiple convictions across the area dating back to 1983. In some cases, he has been found not guilty due to mental disease or defect.

"In 1983 he had a case in Waupaca County for the mistreatment of animals... 1984 Waupaca County mistreatment of animals," said prosecuting attorney Dana Johnson.

Rachwal's attorney said his client's been in jail since last May and agreed with the reccomended sentence of credit for the time Rachwal served in jail and two years of probation.

"I think that there's this sort of aura or idea that when you get credit for time served, it's somehow not a real sentence or not an actual punishment and it has been," said Shannon Viel, Rachwal's attorney.

Rachwal did not speak in court.

Despite the loss of a horse Kapinos says he's satisfied with Rachwal's sentence.

"I think in the letter of the law, you have to be happy with what he got," Kapinos said.

Recently, state Rep. Andre Jacque started circulating a bill to make sexual assault of an animal a felony.

Last year, FOX 11 Investigates explored Rachwal's history and why he continues to be released.

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