Waupun man convicted of computer sex crime

Case was first in county to go to jury trial

A Waupun man was convicted Thursday of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime in what was the first of such cases to actually go to trial in Shawano County.

More than 60 people have been nabbed in sex sting operations in Shawano County over the last five years. Typically, those cases end with plea agreements that avoid a jury trial, and sometimes result in a lesser felony conviction of child enticement.

John M. Groenewold, 54, was the first in Shawano County to take his case to a jury trial, which went for a full day Thursday and resulted in the jury returning guilty verdicts on one count of using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime and three counts of causing a child to view sexual activity.

Sentencing is set for March 22, and in the meantime Groenewold was ordered held on a $5,000 cash bond.

He could face a maximum 40 years in prison and a $100,000 fine on the computer sex crime charge, and six years and a $10,000 fine on each of the other three counts.

Groenewold was arrested Dec. 30, 2016, after responding to an internet ad posted by sheriff’s detectives posing as a 15-year-old girl.

Communications were exchanged, including graphic images sent to the supposed 15-year-old, and a sexual rendezvous was arranged. Groenewold was taken into custody when he arrived. According to the criminal complaint, he had condoms in his possession.

Groenewold testified at the trial and maintained he did not believe the girl was 15, and came to Shawano to confront her and prove that she was an adult.

He said he would have left if it turned out she was actually 15.

District Attorney Greg Parker played a video at the trial of Groenewold being interviewed by Sheriff’s Detective Jesse Sperberg in which Groenewold told him, “I admit that, as soon as she said she was 15, I should have stopped, but I didn’t.”