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MADISON - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that on May 29, 2008, Richard D. Sugden, a Richland County resident, age 52, was ordered committed under Wisconsin's "sexually violent persons" commitment law (Chapter 980, Wis. Stats.) following a four day jury trial in Richland Center. Richland County Circuit Court Judge Edward Leineweber issued the commitment order following the jury's verdict.


Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons. Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence. A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health and Family Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.


Sugden was convicted in Richland County Circuit Court of Sexual Perversion and Rape committed on February 20, 1976. Sugden was later convicted of a second assault in Richland County, First Degree Sexual Assault and Abduction committed on June 12, 1976. Both convictions were for stranger rapes where the victims did not know Sugden. On the night of February 20, 1976, using his own vehicle Sugden forced another car off the road on Highway 60. He dragged the 18-year-old victim from her car leaving another young woman in the vehicle. Holding a sharp homemade weapon to the victim's throat, he drove away with her, forced her to undress, threw her clothing out the car window as he drove then raped the victim in a field.


Less than four months later while Sugden was out on bail from his arrest for the first assault, Sugden attacked two 17-year-old girls as they left an event at the Richland Center Community Center. He was holding a knife on them as he led them to an unknown location when the victim overtook Sugden to the ground as the other girl ran to get help. When the victim lost her grip, Sugden dragged her to the dam at the old millpond where the victim attempted escape by diving into the deep side of the dam. The victim hit a rock and became dazed. Sugden then dragged her through the water, mud and rocks up to the shore where he raped her.


Sugden was sentenced to 12 to 15 years to be served consecutively for the sexual assaults. Sugden received another 27 year sentence for Escape, Taking a Hostage, and Operating a Vehicle Without Consent. The conviction followed a serious escape attempt from Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution initiated by Sugden's feigned complaints of a medical problem. Sugden and two other inmates then used a weapon made from a scissors to take two correctional officers hostage. They were captured after the vehicle they took lost control and overturned.


Sugden was scheduled to be discharged from the Department of Corrections custody on June 27, 2007. Upon a recommendation from the Department of Corrections, the Department of Justice reviewed Sugden's case and filed a petition on June 21, 2007, seeking to commit him as a sexually violent person.


Sugden has now been committed to the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services for care, control and treatment and is expected to be housed at the Sand Ridge Secure Treatment Center in Mauston, Wisconsin for the purpose of receiving treatment.


Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Weise represented the state in this case.