Springsteen-Hensel

By Tyler Lamb

Editor

 

A former Elkhorn wrestling coach will serve four years in prison for sending sexually suggestive text messages to a 17-year-old boy he coached.

Walworth County Judge John Race on July 11 also sentenced the coach, Steven Springsteen-Hensel, 31, to six years of probation.

As part of a plea agreement, an additional charge of attempted sexual assault of a child by a person who works with children was dismissed.

An overflowing courtroom heard two portrayals of Springsteen-Hensel, charged with felony child enticement. The first depicted Springsteen-Hensel as a resident whose passion was coaching, while the other framed him as a man who abused the trust of the community and young men he instructed.

Springsteen-Hensel, was arrested in May as part of an undercover sex sting.

The criminal complaint in the case states Springsteen-Hensel frequently text messaged one of his wrestlers with messages such as “I love you,” which made the victim uncomfortable.

On Monday, May 7, the complaint states the teenager messaged Springsteen-Hensel to ask if he could workout at the Southern Lakes Wrestling Center, and also asked, “What he needed to do for him.”

Springsteen-Hensel replied he would like the victim to perform oral sex on him. The victim rebuffed the advance, but Springsteen-Hensel continued to persuade the victim about sex, messaging, “Have you ever done anything with a guy?” and “Maybe you should try it.”

Delavan Police Detective Joaquin Alonzo received information from the victim regarding Springsteen-Hensel’s messages. In turn, Alonzo reportedly used the victim’s phone to set up a meeting with Springsteen-Hensel. Springsteen-Hensel offered to pick up the victim from the parking lot Phoenix Middle School in Delavan.

On May 15, the criminal complaint alleges Springsteen-Hensel wanted to take the teenager to a bike trail in order to perform oral sex on him.

When the former Elkhorn wrestling coach arrived at the school, police were waiting to arrest him.

Prior to the meeting, Alonzo said Springsteen-Hensel questioned his own sexuality. Springsteen-Hensel also suggested the victim take time to reflect on whether he wanted meet.

“The worst you can say is that Mr. Springsteen-Hensel sent texts … He never sexually assaulted anyone,” said Assistant Public Defender Travis Schwantes. “I fear for the next coach or teacher who loves what they do (who) won’t be trusted.”

Schwanted also argued Springsteen-Hensel cared about the young men he coached, and that a mental evaluation found no hint of mental illness or “sexual deviance.”

He asked Springsteen-Hensel be sentenced to 10 years probation, with rehabilitation in the community.

Conversely, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said due to the “grave” nature of the crime, Springsteen-Hensel needed to receive prison time.

A pre-sentencing investigation from the state Department of Corrections recommended a seven-year prison sentence, with four years probation.

Following Springsteen-Hensel’s arrest, other families involved with the coach voiced concerns regarding hugging and the giving of gifts to their children, according to Grube.

For his part, Springsteen-Hensel made a tearful address before the court. He apologized for pain he caused the victim and the “shadow of shame” he cast on the community.

In his sentencing decision, Judge Race said there is a “great deal of good” in Springsteen-Hensel, as made evident through his years of public service, however, his decision was driven by the need to protect the community and its children.

 
 

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